Striking Myanmar railway workers move as protests continue


MANDALAY, Myanmar (AP) – Residents of Myanmar’s second-largest city helped striking railway workers move out of their state-supplied housing on Saturday after authorities said they would have to leave if they continued to support the movement. protest against the military coup last month.

Mandalay residents brought workers’ furniture and other household items into trucks, vans, and vans.

State railway workers went on strike last month as key and early supporters of the civil disobedience movement against the February 1 coup that toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The military regime has tried to force them back to work through intimidation, which included a night patrol with gunfire last month through their Mandalay housing area and a raid on the Yangon railway workers’ housing area. .

Protests against the coup continued on Saturday in cities and towns across the country, including in Mandalay and Yangon.

The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar after five decades of military rule. In the face of constant strikes and protests against the seizure of power, the junta has responded with increasingly violent repression and efforts to severely limit the information reaching the outside world.

Internet access has been severely restricted, the publication of private newspapers has been banned, and large numbers of protesters, journalists and politicians have been arrested.

The Association for Independent Assistance for Political Prisoners has verified 235 deaths and has said that the actual total, including those where verification has been difficult, “is probably much higher.” He said he has confirmed that 2,330 people have been arrested or charged since the coup, and that 1,980 remain in detention or are still charged.

In addition to using deadly force to try to break up the demonstrations, the security forces have been carrying out a campaign of harassment, robbing the houses they raided, said the group, which also denounced that the security forces have used the detainees. as human shields as they sought to dissolve the demonstrations.

Numerous reports on social media, including videos, have shown security forces vandalizing cars parked on the street.

UN agencies, UNICEF and UNESCO, along with the private humanitarian group Save the Children, issued a statement on Friday criticizing the occupation of educational facilities in Myanmar by security forces as a serious violation of rights. of the kids.

He said that the security forces had occupied more than 60 schools and university campuses in 13 states and regions.

“It will exacerbate the learning crisis for nearly 12 million children and youth in Myanmar, which was already under tremendous pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent widespread closure of schools,” the statement said. “Save the Children, UNESCO and UNICEF urge the security forces to vacate occupied premises immediately and ensure that schools and educational facilities are not used by military or security personnel.

“The security forces must not use the schools under any circumstances,” he declared.

Calls for international action to stop the violence continue to grow.

“The junta cannot defeat the people of Myanmar united in peaceful opposition,” Tom Andrews, the UN independent human rights expert for Myanmar, wrote on Twitter on Friday. Desperate, he launches ruthless attacks to provoke a violent response to try to further justify the violence. It does not work. The world must respond by cutting off its access to money and guns. Now.”

Two of Myanmar’s neighboring countries in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued unexpectedly strong statements on Friday.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged a halt to the violence and called on other regional leaders to hold a summit on the crisis.

Widodo’s move came after ASEAN foreign ministers held a meeting on March 2 in which no consensus was reached on the crisis.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin issued a statement supporting Widodo’s call for an ASEAN summit, saying he was “dismayed by the persistent use of lethal violence against unarmed civilians that has resulted in high numbers of deaths and injuries. as well as suffering throughout the country. ” . “

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