Yangon: junta seizes radios to silence shadow government broadcasts
The opposition-backed alternative executive launched its first broadcast on August 20, but the military is restricting access to anti-junta information. Since Feb. 1, the Tatmadaw has killed more than 1,000 people. The violence may be considered crimes against humanity. Because of Covid-19, people are dying on the steps of hospitals that are no longer admitting patients.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Myanmar's military junta is confiscating all radios and restricting their import after the shadow government set up its own radio channel. Some members of the National League for Democracy (Aung San Suu Kyi's party ousted in the Feb. 1 coup) who formed the Government of National Unity on Aug. 20 launched their first broadcast, which will now air daily for 30 minutes at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Several witnesses saw regime troops raiding electronics stores in a Yangon shopping mall to collect all radios. According to sources reported on the independent website The Irrawaddy, police and village leaders will be instructed to seize electronic equipment from citizens. In April the Tatmadaw (the Burmese army) had confiscated satellite antennas in order to limit the population's access to independent and anti-junta news.
Meanwhile, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Aapp), more than 1,000 people have been killed by the regime since February 1. "We have seen how there has been an escalation in terms of violent and arbitrary attacks by the military junta," reads an Aapp statement. "At first, the military used rubber bullets and tear gas. When this did not produce the desired submission to their dictatorial command, a campaign of terror began in March." More than 7,400 people have been arrested by the Tatmadaw and at least 106 have died from torture by the soldiers.
According to the latest report by Human Rights Watch, the Burmese army's violence perpetrated against the population in the last six months amount to crimes against humanity. Arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, rape and other sexual violence, torture and severe deprivation of liberty: these are not general violence inflicted by individual soldiers, but actions committed knowingly by a state organization in a systematic and widespread manner against civilians.
Meanwhile, the third wave of Covid-19 is raging in the country.
Myanmar health experts report within the next two weeks at least half of the 55 million inhabitants will have been infected with the alpha or delta variant. The population could shrink significantly as a result of the pandemic, other estimates warn. According to Mary Callahan, a professor at the Henry Jackson School of International Studies who has worked in Myanmar for more than 30 years, "some of those infected with Covid die on the front steps of hospitals that reject them. No doubt they are not tested: they have certificates that probably read 'pneumonia' as the cause of death." According to the few testimonies coming from the country, the population is unable to get concentrated oxygen, which remains in the hands of the military.
Official government data in the last week reports just over 2,000 cases per day.