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Burmese junta deploys night arrests and mobs to sow fear

Myanmar’s military junta has stepped up nightly arrests of opponents, rekindling a tactic by the country’s former military regime that human rights groups say was designed to instill fear after the coup. Status as of February 1.

The news came amid reports that some of the ex-inmates released from prison in a mass amnesty Friday had set ablaze and caused unrest in parts of Yangon, the largest city. The deployment of what some called “mobs” rekindled bad memories of the regime’s use of provocateurs to wreak havoc during Myanmar’s former military dictatorship in 1962-2011.

“While the peaceful intentions of the civil disobedience movement (are) well known, disturbing reports point to instability caused by violent crowds,” said the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (Burma), an organization in non-profit of former political prisoners living in Burma. exile. “There is a historical precedent of instability fomented across Burma.”

The AAPP said that as of Saturday 384 people had been arrested since the stroke who overthrew the government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Campaigners said the number of people arrested was likely to be higher but confirmation of cases would take time.

Human rights groups and protest activists said many of those arrested in recent days were lawyers, doctors, government officials and other professionals who had led protests. Many were taken by plainclothes police to unknown locations.

However, in parts of Yangon, neighborhood watch groups alerted residents to the police or other intruders by knocking on pots and pans, a symbol of resistance that has proliferated. Some citizen groups have made their own community “arrests”, according to the AAPP.

“It’s a complete replica of what happened in the 80s and 90s, when they came in the night, but nowadays people are better prepared,” said Manny Maung, researcher at Human Rights. Watch. “The elderly have already experienced it several times and the young will not stand it.”

State spokesperson Global New Light of Myanmar on Sunday confirmed that police had issued arrest warrants and were looking for “fugitives” accused of writing articles or social media posts in the intention to “harm the peace and order of the country”. General Min Aung Hlaing’s junta unveiled a draconian last week cybersecurity law this will give the regime extensive powers to control dissent online.

The army commander-in-chief took power two weeks ago and declared a state of emergency a year after making unsubstantiated allegations of widespread fraud in the November elections. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy largely defeated the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the military’s political proxy, in the vote.

Since the first week of the coup, hundreds of thousands of people have gathered every day to demonstrate in cities across the country, including in states belonging to ethnic minorities. In some cases, officials, police and other officials crossed lines join the demonstrators.

The United States imposed last week punishments against Min Aung Hlaing and nine other putschists and three companies belonging to the army. The main UN human rights body on Friday adopted a resolution calling for the “unconditional” release of Aung San Suu Kyi. China and Russia have distanced themselves from this decision.

Follow John Reed on Twitter: @JohnReedwrites

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