Myanmars military appears to be in firm control of the country, one day after it launched a coup and detained Aung San Suu Kyi, whose whereabouts remain unclear.
The militarys actions provoked widespread international condemnation, with the US president, Joe Biden, threatening sanctions and calling for governments to press for the military to release detainees. The UN security council will meet on Tuesday to discuss the matter.
The military has claimed its actions are in line with Myanmars constitution but has offered little response to the flood of foreign criticism. On the streets of Yangon on Tuesday, life seemed, on the surface, to be continuing as normal, and there did not appear to be a greater security presence.
Phone lines were still patchy, however, and the location of the countrys elected leader was unclear. A Facebook post that could not be verified said Aung San Suu Kyi was being held at her official residence. A statement on the Facebook page of May Win Myint, an official with her National League for Democracy, said the partys executive committee called for her to be freed as soon as possible.
It also called for the military to acknowledge the results of Novembers election and for the parliamentary session due to start this week to go ahead, the statement said.
Hundreds of members of Myanmars parliament remained confined inside their government housing in the capital, according to reports by Associated Press. One unnamed lawmaker told the news agency that he and about 400 others could speak to one another inside the compound and communicate with their constituencies by phone, but were not allowed to leave the complex in Naypyitaw. Police were inside the complex and soldiers were outside, he added.
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said the coup, which came a decade after Myanmar began its transition from direct military rule, represented a serious blow to democratic reforms in the country.
While the streets of Yangon appeared calm, many residents were angry. The military has already ruled us for five decades. It took so much effort for us to gain democracy and its gone, just like that, overnight. We no longer expect anything good from this country, said Khin, a teacher.
As for the military, they dont have an ounce of empathy. They are willing to kill civilians for their own selfish benefit. She used to merely dislike the military, she said. Now I am utterly disgusted by them. Theyre a bunch of monsters.
Myae, 69, an exports trader who fled to Thailand during the 1988 pro-democracy uprisings, said he was in a state of denial. I want our government back. Its either that, or interference from other countries.
I really look down on these people [the military]. They are illegitimate and illiterate. They dont have the ability, or the right, to rule us. They have no respect for the people, he said.
He feared that the countrys development, as well as his own work and income, would suffer. But were watching and we are hoping. This is not the end. History will repeat itself over and over again.
Others called for the international community to put pressure on the military. The UN security council has been criticised for its failure to respond to previous abuses by the military, such as the violent crackdown in Rakhine state in 2017, which forced 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. They remain stranded in squalid and cramped refugee camps over the border.
The UN said it feared the latest developments would worsen the plight of the Rohingya who are still in the country. There are about 600,000 Rohingya that remain in Rakhine state, including 120,000 people who are effectively confined to camps, they cannot move freely and have extremely limited access to basic health and education services, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Within the security council, China and Russia, both wielding veto powers, have previously protected Myanmar from significant pressure.
Chinas UN mission told Reuters on Monday it hoped to find out more about the latest developments from the security council briefing on Tuesday. Its also our hope that any move of the council would be conducive to the stability of Myanmar rather than making the situation more complicated, a spokesperson for the Chinese UN mission said.
With Associated Press and Reuters