Scuffles in Yangon as Fb bans all Myanmar navy accounts | ASEAN Information
Disputes broke out between opponents and supporters of the coup in Myanmar on Thursday when Facebook deleted all accounts linked to the country’s military and banned advertising by military-controlled companies on its platforms.
Pro-military protesters gathering in Yangon, the country’s largest city, beat several bystanders after anti-coup protesters and local residents hit pots and pans and crossed their wrists to express their opposition to the rally, according to local media .
A man also threw a rock at a photographer from Frontier Myanmar magazine, slightly injuring him, according to the publication.
Myanmar’s military, known as Tatmadaw, took power on February 1 for fraud in an election last November in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) returned to power for a second term. The takeover has sparked daily protests across the country. Tens of thousands took to the streets to demand an end to military rule and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other imprisoned leaders.
The rally by pro-Tatmadaw supporters on Thursday was the “first major pro-military demonstration” in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, according to Frontier Myanmar. Around 1,000 people have joined the march, the Reuters news agency said.
Some military supporters have been photographed with clubs and knives. Some threw stones and fired catapults, while video footage showed several apparent followers of the military, one of whom brandished a knife and assaulted a man outside a downtown hotel.
Rescue workers helped the man as he lay on the sidewalk after his attackers left, but his condition was unknown.
Opponents of the coup, meanwhile, said they plan to hold new protests on Thursday. The students asked the protesters to bring textbooks promoting military training so that they could destroy them at the gathering. Doctors should also hold a rally.
“Since the coup, our lives have become hopeless, our dreams have died,” Kaung Sat Wai told Reuters in front of a university campus in the capital, Yangon. “We do not accept an education system that supports the dictatorship,” added the 25-year-old.
But the police blocked the campus gates and prevented hundreds of students from coming out for the march.
While the mass demonstrations against the coup were largely peaceful, at least three demonstrators and one police officer were killed in violence during the rallies.
Facebook said Thursday its decision to ban the Tatmadaw was due to “exceptionally grave human rights violations and the clear risk of future military-initiated violence in Myanmar”.
“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have sparked the need for this ban,” the social media company said in a blog post. “We believe the risk of allowing Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram is too great.”
The bans also apply to Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
On a diplomatic level, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun said the Japanese government had finalized plans to end new aid to Myanmar, but would not call the suspension of official aid a “sanction”. Citing multiple government sources, the daily said the government would also try to persuade the military to come to a democratic solution through dialogue.
However, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said “the report is not true” but left open the possibility of policy change.
The coup has resulted in widespread international condemnation, including selected sanctions against Myanmar’s generals from the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.
Indonesia is trying to coordinate a regional response to the crisis. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is visiting Thailand’s capital Bangkok on Wednesday for three-way talks with his Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai and Myanmar’s military-appointed Foreign Minister, retired Army Colonel Wunna Maung Lwin.
Speaking at a virtual press conference after her return to Indonesia, Marsudi said she had expressed her country’s concern about the situation in Myanmar and stressed the need for dialogue, reconciliation and confidence building.
“We asked all parties to exercise restraint and not use force … to avoid loss and bloodshed,” she said.
Indonesia’s intervention has aroused suspicion among Myanmar democracy activists, who fear that dealing with the military would give legitimacy to the regime and its attempt to abolish the November elections.
Sources were quoted in a Reuters report earlier this week that Indonesia is proposing to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, to send observers to ensure the generals keep their promise of fair elections.
The military has not set a timeframe for new elections, although it imposed a one-year state of emergency when it came to power.
An anti-coup protester shouts slogans in Yangon, Myanmar, on Thursday, February 25, 2021 [AP]Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the Thai embassy in Yangon on Wednesday with signs reading: “Respect our voice” and “We voted NLD”.
Retno did not mention the issue of the election, but emphasized “the importance of an integrative democratic transition process”.
The ASEAN MPs for Human Rights (APHR) urged the regional bloc to do more to resolve the crisis in Myanmar.
“While we appreciate Indonesia’s efforts to forward an ASEAN meeting and the call on the Myanmar junta not to use violence, ASEAN is still lacking in action,” said Charles Santiago, a Malaysian lawmaker who directs the APHR directs.
“It is quite embarrassing that almost a month after the coup, ASEAN foreign ministers still haven’t met to develop a coordinated response to an apparent violation of the charter by the Myanmar military.”
All efforts by ASEAN and Indonesia must also be transparent, Santiago said in a statement.
“What does Indonesia mean when it comes to restoring an inclusive democratic transition in Myanmar? There is only one thing to restore: the properly elected parliament, which was due to meet on February 1st. This is what the people of Myanmar want and tell the world and the junta on the streets of Myanmar every day. “