02/16/2021, 13.59
MYANMAR
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Naypyidaw: Protests undermine stability and create fear

by Francis Khoo Thwe

The army claim democracy demonstrators are the real danger. The UN warns the junta about the "severe consequences" of actions against the people and demands that the right of assembly be guaranteed without reprisals. Criticism of Card. Bo from Yangon and his party with a pink cake. Internet taken down for a few hours.

 

Yangon (AsiaNews) - The protests taking place in many cities nationwide undermine the stability of Myanmar and raise fear among the population, according to the Myanmar army.

The military’s information office which carried the pretentious name: "Truth Information" has stated: "People are delighted to have the security patrols and the security forces will conduct them day and night". In fact, since yesterday, tanks and armoured vehicles have appeared in the major cities of the country, guarding the main intersections.

According to the armed forces, all the demonstrations that have so far gathered hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life and social sectors demanding the release of the leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the end of the dictatorship, are in reality the ones "undermining stability".

Since February 12, the junta has decreed that any gathering with more than five people is to be considered illegal and those who participate are punishable by 20 years in prison.

Despite the threats, people continue demonstrating and asking state employees to implement civil disobedience.

After yesterday's demonstrations in Naypyidaw, Yangon, Mandalay, Sittwe and Myitkyina, even today in Yangon groups of demonstrators gathered in front of the central bank, inviting employees to join the strike.

The attempt to pass the demonstrations as the real danger for the country is also an indirect response to the UN warnings delievered through its special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener who warned the army about the "severe consequences" deriving from harsh responses against popular demonstrations.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said yesterday that Schraner Burgener stressed that "the right to peaceful assemblies must be fully respected and that demonstrators must not be subjected to reprisals."

In addition to demanding respect for human rights and democracy from the army, Schraner Burgener also criticized internet blackouts, which hamper communications. Tonight the web, which had been interrupted for two days, appears to have been restored. Previously it had worked in fits and starts.

Among the focal points of demonstrations are the embassies of Russia and China, the two countries that have held the UN Security Council back from issuing a unanimous condemnation of the coup.

Beijing, which on the one hand shields itself by saying it does not want to enter "the internal affairs" of Myanmar, and on the other it seizes its resources and sells weapons to the junta, is mocked on social media (photo 2).

Controversy has also broken out on social media against Card. Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon. On 14 February he celebrated his 6th year as a cardinal, along with the birthday of the auxiliary bishop Noel Saw Naw Aye. The archdiocese's Facebook site reports a series of photos of the celebration, as well as of the party and the pink cake served to the diners (photo 3).

A believer says that "it is a shame" to party while the population is crushed by the armed forces, victims of violence and imprisonment.

The "overly neutral" attitude of Card. Bo was also criticized by priests, men and women religious. Immediately after the coup, the cardinal had published an open letter in which he urged the junta and the National League of Democracy to dialogue, without expressing any condemnation for the violence against democracy.

Priests, nuns, seminarians and some bishops instead showed closeness to popular demonstrations with prayer meetings, city marches, distribution of food and drinks to demonstrators against the dictatorship.

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