Myanmar coup: Facebook shuts down military's page, as thousands protest

by Guardian staff and agencies | about 5 hours ago

The Guardian

The Guardian

Facebook has deleted the Myanmar military’s main page for breaching its standards prohibiting the incitement of violence, as police arrested a well-known actor wanted for opposing the military coup and thousands gathered for mass protests.

Facebook said it deleted the military or Tatmadaw’s page under its standards prohibiting the incitement of violence.

“In line with our global policies, we’ve removed the Tatmadaw True News Information Team Page from Facebook for repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm,” Facebook said in a statement.

The Facebook ban came as the internet was blocked out for a seventh night in a row.

As protesters began to gather in the two biggest cities of Yangon and Mandalay, news emerged that the well-known actor Lu Min had been arrested. He was one of six celebrities the army said on Wednesday were wanted under an anti-incitement law for encouraging civil servants to join in the protest. The charges can carry a two-year prison sentence.

His wife, Khin Sabai Oo, said in a video posted on his Facebook page that police had come to their home in Yangon and taken him away early on Sunday. The actor, who has appeared in 1000 movies and won numerous awards in his home country, had taken part in several protests.

“They forced open the door and took him away and didn’t tell me where they were taking him. I couldn’t stop them. They didn’t tell me.”

Protesters on Sunday appeared undeterred by the death of two people in Mandalay on Saturday, when police and soldiers fired at demonstrators.

In Yangon, several thousand young people gathered at two sites to chant slogans, while hundreds massed peacefully in the second city of Mandalay, footage shown by a media outlet showed.

Myanmar: police use rubber bullets and teargas in bloodiest day of protest yet - video01:22Myanmar: police use rubber bullets and teargas in bloodiest day of protest yet - video

“The number of people will increase today and we won’t stop. We’ll continue to our goal of democracy,” said Yin Nyein Hmway at the Yangon protest.

People also marched in the central towns of Monywa and Bagan and the southern towns of Dawei and Myeik.

In Myitkyina town in the north, which has seen confrontations in recent days, people laid flowers for the dead protesters while young people with banners drove around on motorbikes.

“They aimed at the heads of unarmed civilians. They aimed at our future,” a young protester in Mandalay told the crowd.

The demonstrations and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes and disruptions show no sign of dying down, with opponents of the military sceptical of an army promise to hold a new election and hand power to the winner.

Medical students wearing face masks hold placards as they gather during an anti-coup protest in Mandalay on 21 February.Medical students wearing face masks hold placards as they gather during an anti-coup protest in Mandalay on 21 February.Photograph: AP

An activist group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, said on Saturday that 569 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced in connection with the coup.

The more than two weeks of protests had been largely peaceful, unlike previous episodes of opposition during nearly half a century of direct military rule, which ended in 2011.

Members of ethnic minorities, poets, rappers and transport workers marched on Saturday in various places, but tension escalated quickly in Mandalay where police and soldiers confronted striking shipyard workers.

Some of the demonstrators fired catapults at police, who responded with teargas and gunfire, witnesses said.

A protester is treated by medical workers after being beaten by security forces during a demonstration against the military coup in Mandalay on 20 February.A protester is treated by medical workers after being beaten by security forces during a demonstration against the military coup in Mandalay on 20 February.Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Video clips posed on social media also showed members of the security forces firing and witnesses said they found the cartridges of live rounds and rubber bullets.

Two people were shot and killed and 20 were wounded, said Ko Aung, a leader of the Parahita Darhi volunteer emergency service.

Police were not available for comment. State-run MRTV television made no mention of the protests or casualties in its news programme.

Why Myanmar protesters see Aung San Suu Kyi as their greatest hope – video explainer04:58Why Myanmar protesters see Aung San Suu Kyi as their greatest hope – video explainer

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) condemned the violence in Mandalay as a crime against humanity.

A young female protester died on Friday after being shot in the head last week in the capital, Naypyidaw, the first death among anti-coup demonstrators. Her funeral is expected in the city on Sunday.

The army says one policeman has died of injuries sustained in a protest.

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned the deadly violence. “The use of lethal force, intimidation and harassment against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable,” he said on Twitter.

I condemn the use of deadly violence in Myanmar.The use of lethal force, intimidation & harassment against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable.Everyone has a right to peaceful assembly. I call on all parties to respect election results and return to civilian rule.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) February 21, 2021

US state department spokesperson Ned Price said the United States was “deeply concerned” by reports that security forces had fired on protesters and continued to detain and harass demonstrators and others.

France, Singapore and the UK also condemned the violence, with British foreign minister Dominic Raab saying the shooting of peaceful protesters was “beyond the pale”.

The US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand have announced limited sanctions since the coup, with a focus on military leaders.

European Union foreign ministers will meet Monday to discuss their own measures against the regime.

The army seized back power after alleging fraud in November elections that Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy swept, detaining her and others. The electoral commission had dismissed the fraud complaints.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces a charge of violating a Natural Disaster Management Law as well as illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios. Her next court appearance is on 1 March.

Reuters contributed to this report

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by WebFeed.app.

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