Sunday, May 9

Myanmar’s junta orders five media outlets closed as protesters defy curfew

Myanmar’s military government canceled the licenses of five local media outlets on Monday, putting a major brake on press coverage of the crisis.

Mizzima, DVB, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now and 7Day News, “can no longer transmit, write or give information using any kind of media platform or media technology,” the military said on state broadcaster MRTV.

All five had been offering extensive coverage of the protests, often with live video streaming online.

Myanmar Now’s offices were raided by authorities on Monday before the move was announced.

DVB said it was not surprised by the cancellation and would continue to broadcast on satellite television and online.

“We care about the safety of our reporters and our staff, but in the current uprising, the entire country has become citizen journalists and there is no way for the military authorities to shut down the flow of information,” said Executive Director Aye. Chan Naing. Associated Press.

The government has detained dozens of journalists since the coup, including a Myanmar Now reporter and Thein Zaw of the AP. Both have been charged under a law of public order that carried a penalty of up to three years in prison.

More protests

The shutdown comes as massive protests continue challenging the curfew at 8pm.

Protesters in Myanmar’s largest city came out on Monday night to show support for some 200 students trapped by security forces in a small area of ​​a neighborhood.

Students and other civilians previously participated in one of many daily protests across the country against the military’s takeover of power last month that toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The night’s street protests began after police cordoned off part of Yangon’s Sanchaung neighborhood and were believed to conduct door-to-door searches of those fleeing attacks by security forces to seek refuge in the homes of strangers. comprehensive.

News of their plight quickly spread on social media and people took to the streets of neighborhoods across the city to show solidarity and in hopes of taking some pressure off the persecuted protesters. In some streets, they built makeshift barricades with what they had on hand.

In the Insein district, they dispersed across road crossings, singing songs, chanting pro-democracy slogans and hitting objects.

Statement from Western Diplomats

The diplomatic missions of the United States, Great Britain, Canada and the European Union issued statements urging security forces to allow trapped people to return safely to their homes. Although everyone has been highly critical of the February 1 coup and police violence, it is unusual for such diplomatic statements to be issued in relation to a specific incident in progress.

“There is increased tension caused by the security forces surrounding Kyun Taw Road in Sanchaung Township, Yangon. We call on those security forces to stand down and allow people to return to their homes safely, ”said the statement from the United States Embassy.

Reports on social media citing witnesses said that up to 50 people were arrested overnight in Sanchaung and other parts of the city, but many of those who had been hiding were able to leave safely at dawn on Tuesday, a few hours. after the police abandoned their search.

On Monday night, security forces chased crowds, harassed residents watching from windows, and fired stun grenades. There were also some reports of rubber bullet injuries.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was following developments in the Sanchaung district, where “many of the people trapped are women, who were marching peacefully in commemoration of International Women’s Day,” the UN spokesman said, Stephane Dujarric.

“Calls for maximum restraint and calls for the safe release of all without violence or arrests,” Dujarric said, and respect for the rights to freedom of assembly and expression of peaceful protesters who express “their hopes and wishes for the future of his country”. . ”

Guterres also called the occupation of several public hospitals in Myanmar by security forces “completely unacceptable,” the UN spokesman said.

The night hours have become increasingly dangerous in Myanmar. Police and military units routinely scour neighborhoods, shooting randomly to intimidate residents and disturb their sleep, and making targeted arrests.

To date, the government’s violent crackdown has left more than 50 protesters dead. At least 18 people were shot dead on February 28 and 38 on Wednesday, according to the UN Human Rights Office.

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