Armored vehicles have rolled into Myanmar’s major cities, night raids are being conducted on prominent coup critics, and internet access has been largely cut off amid fears of a crackdown on anti-coup protesters. This comes after nine straight days of mass city protests.
Al Jazeera reported that then the military rolled out armored vehicles into Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, as well as into the cities of Myitkyina and Sittwe. This is the first widespread use of the military’s armored vehicles since the early February coup overthrew the government.
On Monday morning in Yangon’s Sule Pagoda, which has been the epicenter of demonstrations against the coup, the police deployed a dozen trucks with four of them containing water cannons.
In one incident, posted to Facebook Live, security forces in Myitkyina, the capital of the country’s northern Kachin state, fired on protesters at a power plant on Sunday, after a crowd had gathered there fearing that the military was about to cut off the electricity. It is unclear whether live rounds or rubber bullets were used.
Video shows security forces using water cannons. Then protesters, who had built barricades of tires, began to throw stones. Military members then fired several rounds at the crowd. Five journalists reporting on the incident were allegedly arrested.
One video of the incident from Radio Free Asia can be seen here:
The United States Embassy warned Americans in Myanmar to shelter in place and not to venture out due to the possibility of violence. It also warned U.S. citizens about a possible country-wide internet outage from 1:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
NetBlocks, which tracks Internet disruption, said on its Twitter account that connectivity was being restored as of Monday morning, but that social media was shut down for eight hours from 1:00 a.m.
Update: Internet connectivity is being restored in #Myanmar from 9 am local time; network data show national connectivity rising to ordinary levels after information blackout; social media still restricted for most users; incident duration ~8 hours 📈
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 15, 2021
United Nations’ Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a released statement that he was “deeply concerned” about the situation in the country, “including the increasing use of force and the reported deployment of additional armored vehicles to major cities.”
The U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, along with several other Western nations, issued a statement calling on the military and police forces to “refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government.”
“We support the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy, freedom, peace, and prosperity. The world is watching,” the U.S. Embassy’s statement said.
Statement by Ambassadors to Myanmar: "We support the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy, freedom, peace, and prosperity. The world is watching." pic.twitter.com/OtRzSEIf1H
— U.S. Embassy Burma (@USEmbassyBurma) February 14, 2021
On February 1, the military, led by Min Aung Hlaing, led a coup against the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, detaining key government officials and forming a new military junta. The military cited numerous election irregularities in November’s election which Suu Kyi’s party achieved a landslide victory.
Suu Kyi was detained and is under house arrest for illegally importing walkie-talkies for her security detail. President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he will impose sanctions on the military leaders in Myanmar who directed the coup, including Min Aung Hlaing.