Myanmar authorities on Tuesday warned journalists not to cover a shadow government consisting of elected lawmakers toppled in a coup last month, while military gunfire stole away their youngest, and fear and fatigue after seven weeks of escalating military violence prompted an exodus of migrant workers from the big cities.
The military regime toppled leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, during the third press conference since the February 1 coup, repeated unfounded claims that election fraud had prompted the military to take over, and – also without evidence – blamed protesters for the violence that killed hundreds of civilians.
“State administrative council [SAC] has assumed the responsibility of the state on the grounds of national election fraud and election stealing activities in the 2020 election ”, said Deputy Minister of Information, Major General Zaw Min Tun.
“After the SAC took power, there were protests, but since February 9, they became violent and became anarchic situation with weapons attacks,” he said.
Zaw Min Tun also warned journalists not to contact members of the Representative Committee for Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CPRH), a shadow government of lawmakers elected in November 2020, which had already been declared. Dad is an illegal organization. Reporters defying the order will be charged under the Illegal Associations Act, he said. The regime detained 45 journalists, although 28 were released and 2 were released on bail.
The spokesperson also used the press conference to present new allegations of corruption against Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest and charged with inciting, violating telecommunications laws, possessing radios. radios imported “illegally” and violated the Disaster Management Act due to violations of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
In Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, 7-year-old Khin Myo Chit became the youngest person killed in military crackdowns on anti-coup protests. The man told RFA, the youngest of a family of eight, she was shot in the stomach and died in her father’s arms.
Khin Myo Chit was among at least 5 people killed when security forces attacked a crowd in Aung Pin Lae, a working-class neighborhood of the city where 15 people died in the past two days, witnesses said.
According to an RFA tally on Tuesday, the suppression of the protests has caused the death toll to reach 240 people. The Association for Supporting Political Prisoners (AAPP), a watchdog group, said as of Tuesday, 2,812 people had been arrested, charged with or convicted in connection with the military coup, with 2,418 still under arrest. incarceration or pending order. The AAPP stated that the death toll was 275 people.
The number of children killed in Myanmar has risen to more than 20 since February 1, with at least 17 children still in arbitrary detention, according to a statement by the NGO Save the Children. According to the latest estimates, at least 488 students are currently in detention.
“The safety of children must be protected in all situations and we again urge the security forces to stop deadly attacks on protesters immediately,” the statement said. . “Over and over we see that children are undoubtedly the innocent victims of any crisis. The only way to protect children in Myanmar is to completely prevent violence against all Myanmar people ”.
Witnesses said that the constant violence, life-threatening, indiscriminate shootings of security forces in crowded urban areas have caused tens of thousands of people to migrate from Mandalay, Yangon and Naypyidaw, witnesses said.
Residents in the three largest cities say they have suffered enough police and soldiers bombarding neighborhoods, breaking into homes and shops, and destroying property.
Most of those leaving Yangon come from the towns of Hlaingthaya, Shwepyitha, North Dagon, South Dagon, North Okkalapa and Dagon Seikkan, where millions of migrant workers work in factories. Authorities put six towns under martial law after a series of fires and a bloody crackdown on March 14-15.
Civil servants who have quit their jobs to join the nationwide civil disobedience movement are also fleeing to the countryside to avoid arrest.
As police protests and violence forced factories to close after the military took over, many migrant workers, also affected by the factory shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, said they were face more difficulties and live each day in fear.
A worker from the Ayeyarwady region told RFA: “All of these factories in Hlaingthaya are operated by migrant workers, and migrant workers face unemployment with no reason to stay when they are not. food or rent.
A human resources worker from Labutta in the Ayeyarwady region said that the workers fear for their safety in Yangon.
“As the death toll increased, our parents back home were very worried,” he said. “It may not be safe even in our homeland because there are troubles everywhere, but I think it will be safer there than in Yangon.”
Out of money
Some workers ran out of money and weren’t paid last month’s wages because of the factory shutdown, said Than Than Soe garment factory workers.
“And it’s very scary because there are gunshots every night around 11 p.m. or midnight,” he said. “We couldn’t sleep, so we decided to go home. We’ll be back when things settle down and jobs are ready again. ”
Hlaingthaya, a large industrial park in Yangon, with a population of more than 1 million, becomes Myanmar’s most populous town. At least 50 people were killed there when soldiers and police opened fire on protesters on March 14. After declaring martial law there the next day, residents began to face love. lack of food and water.
A worker said he was about to leave Kyaukmyaung ward of Yangon and return home in western Rakhine state, saying the situation was completely unstable.
“We couldn’t find any jobs for more than a year because of COVID-19, and now it’s because of this political instability,” he said. “Life here is very difficult especially for people like us who live with our hands and feet, so we decided to go back to the country.”
A Mandalay worker with a newborn child said nightly gunfire kept them from sleeping.
“Nobody knows when this violence might happen in their streets,” she said. “We don’t feel safe during the day or at night. We live in fear every day. That’s why I decided to go back to my village ”.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translation of Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.