Myanmar’s military deployed tanks and troops on Sunday to try to quell widespread violence from protesters around the country.
Tanks and troops were deployed in Myanmar on Sunday to try to quell a growing uprising as protesters turned violent in the wake of a coup by the country’s military.
The ruling military is trying to crush rising civil disobedience, which has emerged since the group overthrew democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this month.
On Sunday, the US Embassy told its citizens in Myanmar to “shelter in place”, as the largest display of military might occurred since the arrest of Suu Kyi on February 1.
However, a UN expert on the human rights situation in Myanmar said the increasing attacks on civilians are “signs of desperation” from the ruling military.
“It’s as if the generals have declared war on the people of Myanmar,” UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said on Sunday.
“Late night raids; mounting arrests; more rights stripped away; another internet shutdown; military convoys entering communities,” Mr Andrews said.
“These are signs of desperation. Attention generals: You will be held accountable.”
Security forces were sent to several power plants, including a station in northern Myanmar, where protesters had been demonstrating for nine days, according to Reuters. The military opened fire on the protesters, who fear the military will cut the nation’s power supply.
Protesters had also gathered outside power plants in Kachin, in Myanmar’s north, where the military was also involved in a confrontation with the demonstrators.
And at another protest at a power station in Myitkyina, security forces fired on the protesters, according to a Facebook Live broadcast. It was unclear if the military used rubber bullets or live ammunition.
Last week the country suffered a complete internet shutdown, soon after livestreamed images showed military vehicles and troops moving through different parts of the country.
Netblocks, which monitors online traffic, said Myanmar had been taken offline by a “state-ordered information blackout”, AFP reports.
Local media outlets said at least five journalists monitoring the protests had been detained and published pictures of some people wounded in the incident.
A joint statement from a dozen nations, including the US, the UK, Canada and members of the EU called on the military forces not to harm civilians.
“We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” they said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed that call, pushing authorities to “ensure the right of peaceful assembly is fully respected and demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals”.
Through his spokesman, Mr Guterres also asked the military to “urgently” allow Swiss diplomat Christine Schraner Burgener to visit Myanmar “to assess the situation first hand”.
An emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council on Friday called for the new regime to release all “arbitrarily detained” people and for the military to hand power back to Suu Kyi’s administration.
Myanmar’s military insists it took power lawfully and has instructed journalists in the country not to refer to itself as a government that took power in a coup.
– with wires