WRAPUP 1-Coup sparks outcry from Myanmar as West questions how to respond

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WRAPUP 1-Coup sparks outcry from Myanmar as West questions how to respond

* The United Nations Security Council will meet on Tuesday

* The state of emergency lasts one year

* The junta replaces the main ministers

February 2 (Reuters) – Western leaders condemned the Burmese military coup against the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, and hundreds of thousands of his supporters took to social media to express their anger at the takeover.

The sudden turn of events in the early hours of Monday derailed years of efforts to bring democracy to the poverty-stricken country and raised more questions about the prospect of the return of a million Rohingya refugees.

The UN Security Council will meet on Tuesday, diplomats said, amid calls for a firm response to the detention of Suu Kyi and dozens of her political allies, despite Myanmar’s close ties to China. , member of the Board, will play a role in any decision.

US President Joe Biden said the coup was a direct attack on Myanmar’s transition to democracy and the rule of law.

The military handed power to the military leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, and imposed a state of emergency for a year on the country, claiming to have responded to what it called election fraud.

Min Aung Hlaing, who was nearing retirement, promised free and fair elections and a transfer of power to the winning party, without giving a deadline.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which won an 83% landslide in the Nov. 8 election, said it called on people to protest the military takeover, citing comments written earlier in anticipation of a coup.

But the streets remained quiet overnight after troops and riot police took up positions in the capital, Naypyitaw, and Yangon’s main commercial center. Telephone and Internet connections were interrupted.

Many in Myanmar have expressed their anger on social media.

Data on Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 showed more than 325,000 people had used the hashtag #SaveMyanmar to denote their opposition to the coup, and some people changed their profile picture to black to show their grief or to red in support. at the NLD, often with a portrait of Suu Kyi, 75, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

“As a citizen of Myanmar, we do not agree with the current decision and we would like to ask the world leaders. The UN and the world media are helping our country – our leaders – our people – to fight against these acts bitter, “a widely reposted post said.

Four groups of young people condemned the coup and pledged to “support the people” but did not announce any specific action.

Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other NLD leaders were “taken away” in the early hours of Monday morning, NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt told Reuters. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said at least 45 people have been detained.

DELETED MINISTERS

Consolidating the coup, the junta removed 24 ministers and appointed 11 substitutes to oversee the ministries of finance, defense, foreign affairs and interior.

Banks said they would reopen on Tuesday after suspending services on Monday in a rush to withdraw money.

Yangon residents had rushed to stock up as foreign companies from Japanese retail giant Aeon to South Korean trading company POSCO International and Norwegian Telenor attempted to contact staff in Myanmar and assess turmoil.

Suu Kyi’s electoral victory follows around 15 years of house arrest between 1989 and 2010 and a long struggle against the military, which seized power in a 1962 coup and stamped out all dissent for decades until his party came to power in 2015.

Her international reputation as a human rights icon was severely affected after she failed to stop the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in 2017 and defended the military against charges of genocide. But she remains extremely popular at home and is revered as the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero, Aung San.

“BROKEN WINGS”

The coup follows days of tension between the civilian government and the military. In the pre-written statement on Facebook, Suu Kyi reportedly said that an army takeover would put Myanmar “under a dictatorship”.

“I urge people not to accept this, to respond and to protest wholeheartedly against the military coup,” he said. Reuters could not reach any NLD official to confirm the truth of the statement.

Army supporters celebrated the coup, marching through Yangon in vans and waving national flags.

“Today is the day people are happy,” a nationalist monk told a crowd in a video posted to social media.

Democracy activists and NLD voters were horrified and angry. Four youth groups condemned the coup in statements and pledged to “support the people”, but did not announce specific action.

“Our country was a bird that just learned to fly. Now the military has broken our wings,” student activist Si Thu Tun said.

Chief NLD leader Win Htein said in a Facebook post that the army chief’s takeover shows his ambition rather than his concern for the country.

In the capital, security forces confined members of parliament to residential quarters on the day they expected to occupy their seats, Representative Sai Lynn Myat said.

“ POTENTIAL FOR UNREST ”

The United Nations led the condemnation of the coup and called for the release of detainees and the restoration of democracy in comments widely echoed by Australia, Britain, the European Union, India, Japan and the United States.

In Washington, President Biden called on the international community to pressure the Burmese military to relinquish power, release detainees and refrain from violence against civilians. Those responsible for the coup would be held accountable, he said.

In Japan, a major aid donor with many companies in Myanmar, a ruling party source said the government may need to rethink strengthening defense relations with the country as part of regional efforts to counterbalance China. .

China called on all parties in Myanmar to respect the constitution and maintain stability, but “noted” the events in the country rather than expressly condemning them.

Bangladesh, home to around one million Rohingya who fled violence in Myanmar, called for “peace and stability” and said it hoped a process of repatriating refugees could move forward. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh also condemned the takeover. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, called for “dialogue, reconciliation and return to normalcy” while in Bangkok, police clashed with a group of pro-democracy protesters outside the Myanmar embassy.

“It’s their internal business,” said a Thai government official – a hands-off approach also adopted by Malaysia and the Philippines.

The November vote was criticized in the West for disenfranchising many Rohingyas, but the election commission dismissed military complaints of fraud. In its declaration declaring the emergency, the military cited the commission’s failure to deal with complaints about electoral lists, its refusal to postpone new parliamentary sessions and protests from groups unhappy with the vote.

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