Myanmar coup latest: UK slaps new sanctions on Min Aung Hlaing/in News /by ND Burma
YANGON/BANGKOK — On Feb. 1, Myanmar’s military detained State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in the country’s first coup since 1988, bringing an end to a decade of civilian rule.
The Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy had won a landslide in a general election last November. But the military has claimed the election was marred by fraud.
For all our coverage, visit our Myanmar Coup page.
Follow the latest developments here (Yangon time):
Friday, Feb. 26
3:30 a.m. Rather than isolate Myanmar, Association of Southeast Asian leaders have shown a willingness to work with the country to restore the democratic process, writes Thai international affairs scholar Kavi Chongkittavorn in commentary for Nikkei Asia.
“If they fail, it will greatly damage ASEAN’s credibility — and centrality — in the eyes of the international community. More than that, it will dash international hopes for any kind of mediation process to resolve the crisis,” he writes. “While ASEAN’s charter lacks any provision for expelling a member country, the 10-nation grouping has some leverage.” Read more.
1:00 a.m. Japan is considering halting new official development aid to Myanmar for the foreseeable future, Nikkei reports, amid growing global outcry over the Feb. 1 coup and subsequent deadly crackdown on protesters in the Southeast Asian country.
Separately, the World Bank has stopped payments for projects in Myanmar on withdrawal requests that were made after the coup, Reuters reports, citing a letter to the finance ministry.
Thursday, Feb. 25
10:15 p.m. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announces further sanctions on figures in Myanmar’s military government, including armed forces commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.
This second round of sanctions is directed at six members of the State Administration Council, which took over government powers after the Feb. 1 coup.
“The commander in chief, as chair of the SAC and head of the Tatmadaw (military), is being sanctioned for his involvement in overseeing and directing serious human rights violations since the coup,” according to a U.K. Foreign Office press release, adding that the other five figures “share responsibility for the violations.”
In addition, the U.K. Department for International Trade aims to “to ensure that U.K. companies in Myanmar are not trading with military-owned businesses, while protecting the important role that trade plays in poverty reduction and economic development.”
Raab says, “My message to the people of Myanmar is simple: the UK is working closely with our international partners to support your right to democracy and freedom of expression.”
9:40 p.m. “Myanmar’s coup is a disaster for Myanmar, but it also is a signifier of the continuing regression of democracy region-wide in Southeast Asia,” writes Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank.
“The region, which once had made significant progress toward democratization, has backslid badly in recent years, with regression in former bright spots including Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as Cambodia and now Myanmar,” Kurlantzick argues.
7:40 p.m. Toyota Motor has decided to postpone the opening of a new plant in Myanmar amid heightened political uncertainty following the Feb. 1 coup, Nikkei Asia has learned.
The plant was scheduled to open this month.
2:30 p.m. Here are more scenes from Yangon, where supporters of the military took to the streets earlier on Thursday, with some reports of violence against anti-coup residents.
Tanee also details a Wednesday phone call between U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who doubles as defense minister. The spokesman says they discussed the importance of ASEAN finding a peaceful solution, with Austin stressing Thailand’s role in the bloc.
Meanwhile, Myanmar military spokesperson Zaw Min Tun tells Nikkei Asia that the meeting with the Thai and Indonesian foreign ministers was “so good” and “confirmed that ASEAN will maintain a non-interference policy.”
Zaw Min Tun also says that Aung San Suu Kyi’s State Counselor Office was abolished last Friday.
11:00 a.m. A crowd of military supporters marched through Yangon earlier on Thursday morning, toward the landmark Sule Pagoda. Residents showed their displeasure by banging pots and pans, to which the military supporters responded by firing slingshots. Footage posted on social media showed scattered violence, including what appeared to be military backers beating and even stabbing bystanders. Some were detained by residents and reportedly found to be former soldiers themselves, based on their ID cards.
10:40 a.m. Facebook has banned Myanmar’s military from using its platforms with immediate effect. “Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” the social media giant says in a blog post. “We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s army) on Facebook and Instagram are too great.”
The post adds that all military-linked “commercial entities” would also be banned from advertising. On the other hand, Facebook says the ban “does not cover government ministries and agencies engaged in the provision of essential public services,” such as the health and education ministries. Facebook had already removed the Tatmadaw’s main page.
4:20 a.m. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price expresses concern about the deportations by Malaysia.
“We continue to urge all countries in the region contemplating returning Burmese migrants back to Burma to halt those repatriations until the [United Nations Refugee Agency] can assess whether these migrants have any protection concerns before being sent back to Burma, noting that the Burmese military has a long documented history of human rights abuses against members of religious and ethnic minority groups,” Price tells a news conference.
4:00 a.m. London-based NetBlocks, the self-described “Internet’s Observatory,” reports decreased internet access in Myanmar.
“The Malaysian authorities in defiance of the court order breached the principle of non-refoulement … which absolutely prohibits the collective deportation of migrants without an objective risk assessment being conducted in each individual case,” experts say.
“The failure to ensure due process safeguards for all migrants including through case-by-case risk assessments and adequate protection measures on an individual basis, heightened their vulnerabilities and risk of exploitation and other violations upon return,” they say.
9:00 p.m. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has met with her Myanmar counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin in Bangkok, as Jakarta steps up its push for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations-led resolution of the crisis in Myanmar.
Marsudi traveled to the Thai capital after canceling a planned trip to the Burmese capital of Naypyitaw.
Indonesia faces the difficult task of uniting the 10-nation ASEAN bloc behind its efforts, starting with holding a ministerial meeting on the crisis.
“Thailand has conveyed its agreement, and so far ASEAN countries have expressed their commitment to support a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers,” Marsudi tells reporters.
4:00 p.m. Human rights groups and some Malaysian lawmakers are calling on the government to explain why it deported over 1,000 Myanmar nationals despite a court order to wait, arguing the move could amount to contempt of court, Reuters reports. The Kuala Lumpur High Court on Tuesday had granted a stay on the deportation of 1,200 detainees, pending an application by Amnesty International and Asylum Access.
But hours later, the authorities sent 1,086 people back on three Myanmar navy ships.”We believe that the government owes an explanation to the people of Malaysia as to why they chose to defy the court order,” Amnesty’s Malaysia director Katrina Maliamauv tells reporters. The court has reportedly extended the stay order barring 114 remaining detainees from being deported for the time being.
12:53 p.m. Myanmar’s foreign minister arrives in Thailand for the junta’s first diplomatic talks since the military seized power in a coup, Reuters reports.
9:30 a.m. Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry issues a statement saying Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will not travel to Myanmar to hold talks with Myanmar’s military leaders. “Been having rounds of phone communications with several ASEAN FM colleagues for the last few days, inc. FM Philippines, Viet Nam, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Laos on developments in #ASEAN,” Marsudi said in a tweet.
8:00 a.m. Protesters gather in Yangon, the 19th day since large-scale street demonstrations started on Feb. 6. Ethnic minority groups, as well as youth, are out in the streets in various parts of the city, including Hledan district in the heart of the second-largest city in the country.
3:35 a.m. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne says she has discussed the situation in Myanmar with Philippine counterpart Teodoro Locsin.
Tuesday, Feb. 23
11:30 p.m. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is set to visit Myanmar on Thursday for what appears to be the first in-person meeting between the new military government and a Southeast Asian official, Reuters reports, citing a leaked government document.
Reuters says a Myanmar official confirmed that the Ministry of Transport letter was authentic.
Government offices and banks remain in effect closed as their workers take part in the civil disobedience movement.
Meanwhile, military leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing was quoted in state media as telling his ruling council to “put its energy into reviving the country’s ailing economy.”
5:00 p.m. Malaysia’s immigration department says it has carried out a repatriation program involving 1,086 Myanmar nationals, despite an earlier court order to stay the deportation. Department Director-General Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a statement the people were sent back on three Myanmar navy ships and did not include ethnic Rohingya refugees or asylum-seekers.
2:30 p.m. Members of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, say that their complaint to the police about a Feb. 9 raid on their headquarters was not taken seriously.
They say police have “accepted” their complaint, but not acted on it. As such, the NLD will bring the case to “a higher level of police authority,” they say.
2:21 p.m. The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven rich countries say the use of violence against people protesting against the coup in Myanmar is unacceptable and perpetrators must be held to account.
1:00 p.m. A sign at a shop selling phones in Yangon reads, “We won’t sell products to people who do not participate in CDM [the Civil Disobedience Movement].”
According to the store manager, this shop was kept closed on Monday. “All shops in downtown closed, and we are also one of them,” he said, explaining the reason for the shop’s closure was “to allow the employees to do what they wanted yesterday,” indicating the shop encouraged its staffers to join the protests.
10:30 a.m. Witnesses say the crowd at Sule Pagoda Road, the main street in downtown Yangon, is smaller than yesterday. Factories and shops have reopened after a general strike the day before.
A 32-year-old man working at a bag factory who was protesting said: “Me and the generation older than me suffered under the previous military rule — the education was very bad, and we were always afraid of the police. I don’t want that to happen again.”
9:00 a.m. Protesters start to gather in the Hledan district of central Yangon, marking the 18th day since large-scale street demonstrations started on Feb. 6. Police block the road near the U.S. Embassy, where crowds have called for Washington to put more pressure on the junta.
1:20 a.m. The European Union is ready “ready to adopt restrictive measures” targeting leaders of the Myanmar coup, the Council of the EU said in a statement.
“At the same time, the EU will continue reviewing all its policy tools as the situation evolves, including its policy on development cooperation and its trade preferences,” the statement says.
EU nation foreign ministers meeting today have decided on a “set of targeted” measures in response to the coup, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell tells reporters, but he stopped short of endorsing a cancellation of the preferential tariff treatment that has benefited manufacturers in low-cost Myanmar.
Monday, Feb. 22
11:00 p.m. Britain’s minister for Asia has summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to the U.K. for a second time this month and condemned the military’s actions against demonstrators.
Nigel Adams tells Kyaw Zwar Minn “the use of violence and force against protesters, which has already led to death and serious injury, was completely reprehensible and must stop,” according to a statement by a Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office spokesperson.
This marks the latest instance of British pressure on the Myanmar military for its Feb. 1 coup and subsequent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.
Adams said the U.K. will “maintain the international spotlight on human rights violations and use all diplomatic levers available,” according to the spokesperson.
Speaking at the same council session, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein does not mention the deportation issue but says his country will “continue robust advocacy for the rights of peoples who have long been subjected to human rights abuses, such as the Rohingyas.”
9:10 p.m. The Malaysian arms of human rights groups Amnesty International and Asylum Access have filed a judicial review in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to block plans to deport 1,2000 back to Myanmar in cooperation with the Myanmar military.
“This effort to halt the deportation is based on information from refugee groups evidently indicating that asylum seekers and refugees are among the individuals being sent to Myanmar,” said Katrina Jorene Maliamauv, executive director of Amnesty International Malaysia, in a joint statement. “There are also reports that those due to be deported include children in detention with at least one parent still in Malaysia. Separating children from their parents is an extremely inhuman practice that places these minors at grave risk and goes against the best interest of the child.”
“We believe the three UNHCR document holders have a legitimate expectation that they would not be sent to Myanmar, and deporting them would be in violation of their rights and in clear breach of the non-refoulement principle that the Malaysian government is bound by,” added Tham Hui Ying, executive director of Asylum Access Malaysia.
Malaysia has given assurances that it will not deport members of the Rohingya Muslim minority or refugees registered with the UNHCR.
3:21 p.m. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls on Myanmar’s military to halt repression and release hundreds of people detained since the coup on Feb. 1, Reuters reports.
“We see the undermining of democracy, the use of brutal force, arbitrary arrests, repression in all its manifestations,” he says Monday while addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. “Restrictions of civic space. Attacks on civil society. Serious violations against minorities with no accountability, including what has rightly been called ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population. The list goes on.”
“Today, I call on the Myanmar military to stop the repression immediately. Release the prisoners. End the violence. Respect human rights and the will of the people expressed in recent elections,” he says.
3:20 p.m. The European Union is considering imposing sanctions on Myanmar as a last resort following the coup and crackdown on protesters, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tells reporters ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts Monday morning.
“We are not prepared to stand by and watch,” Maas says upon his arrival in Brussels. “We will use all diplomatic channels to push for a de-escalation in Myanmar but at the same time, as a last resort, prepare sanctions on the military regime in Myanmar.”
“We have some fear, but we are fighting dictatorship,” a 22-year-old university student says at a sit-in protest outside Sakura Tower. “We will fight for democracy in our country until we achieve it. We are very excited that our generation is fighting for justice.”
“We are now guarding the students’ rally, for their safety. We don’t want any harm done to them — lives matter,” says Linn Mg Mg Swe, a 25-year-old student and biker. “Generations are different. I think 22222 is better than the 8888 uprising as we have better strategies. We will win this revolution.”
Mon Mon, 35, is another among the protesters. “In 1988, I was just 3 years old,” she says. “I experienced the Saffron Revolution, but I didn’t participate because it didn’t interest me. But now I’m out on the streets because I can’t accept this kind of injustice and unfairness in our country. For now, I feel like I’m dutiful to my country because of taking part in this protest. If I was not in here, I would be feeling guilty.”
The military deploys riot police in front of U.S. and Chinese embassies and U.N. offices, where many demonstrators have gathered, and block roads around the area.
On Saturday, security forces opened fire on a protest in Mandalay, the second-largest city in the country. Two demonstrators were killed when police and soldiers fired into a crowd to disperse protesters, sparking even higher tensions.
Activists called for a major protest on Monday to mourn the dead, dubbing it “22222” after the date, Feb. 22. The number is an allusion to 8888 — Aug. 8, 1988 — the date a pro-democracy uprising kicked off nearly 33 years ago, which ended up a bloodbath.
Sunday, Feb. 21
11:30 p.m. Some scenes from Yangon, where protestors held a candlelight vigil against the coup.
11:00 p.m. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reports that 640 people in Myanmar have been arrested, charged or sentenced since the Feb. 1 coup.
1:30 p.m. City Mart, a leading supermarket chain, announces its stores will be closed on Monday and reopen on Tuesday.
1:00 p.m. The funeral of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, the young woman shot in the head by police, ends in Naypyitaw, the capital.
12:00 p.m. Activists call for a major protest on Monday to mourn the dead. They dub it 22222 based on the date, Feb. 22. The number is an allusion to 8888 — Aug. 8, 1988 — the date a six-week mass pro-democracy uprising kicked off nearly 33 years ago.
9:40 a.m. Police have arrested Lu Min, a famous actor wanted for supporting opposition to a Feb. 1 coup, his wife announces. The army said on Wednesday the celebrity was wanted under an anti-incitement law for encouraging civil servants to join protests. 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.
9:34 a.m. Facebook removes military’s main page under its policy of prohibiting the incitement of violence, the company said. “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,” a Facebook representative said in a statement. The Myanmar military is known as the Tatmadaw.
9:30 a.m. Medical staff prepare for emergencies in Yangon. One says: “We are here to save the lives of people.”
5:32 a.m. The United States is “deeply concerned” by reports that Myanmar security forces have fired on protesters and continue to detain and harass demonstrators and others, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in tweet.
“We stand with the people of Burma,” Price tweeted. Myanmar is also known as Burma.
Saturday, Feb. 20
11:55 p.m. The U.K. will consider further action against those involved in violence in Myanmar against people protesting the coup, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab says, after two people were killed when police and soldiers fired to disperse protests.
“The shooting of peaceful protesters in Myanmar is beyond the pale. We will consider further action, with our international partners, against those crushing democracy & choking dissent,” Raab says in a tweet.
Britain imposed sanctions on three Myanmar generals on Thursday, accusing them of serious human rights violations following the coup.
8:48 p.m. Singapore expresses its dismay at reports of civilian casualties following the use of lethal force by security forces against demonstrators.
“The use of lethal weapons against unarmed civilians is inexcusable,” the Foreign Ministry says in a statement. Two people were killed in Myanmar’s second city Mandalay when police fired to disperse people protesting against the Feb. 1 military coup there, the bloodiest day in more than two weeks of demonstrations.
Singapore has been the largest source of foreign investment into Myanmar in recent years. “We strongly urge the security forces to exercise utmost restraint to avoid further injuries and loss of lives, and take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and restore calm,” Singapore’s Foreign Ministry says.
6:35 p.m. Two people were killed in Myanmar’s second city Mandalay when police fired to disperse protesters. “Twenty people were injured and two are dead,” says Ko Aung, a leader of the Parahita Darhi volunteer emergency service agency in the city.
A volunteer doctor confirms there had been two deaths: “One shot in the head died at the spot. Another one died later with a bullet wound to the chest.”
3:00 p.m. The older sister of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, the 20-year-old woman who was killed during the protests, says her funeral will be held on Sunday in the capital, Naypyitaw. “I really want the international community to help our country, rather than just watching, she said.
12:00 p.m. Protesters gather outside the Chinese Embassy in Yangon for a moment of silence to mourn a 20-year-old protester who was killed during demonstrations on Friday. “She was young and had a lot of opportunities, but now everything had been destroyed. The military is just [staying power with] weapons, and it keeps threatening us,” said one male protester.
11:35 p.m. Railway staff march in Yangon and show support for the civil disobedience campaign in Myanmar.
11:00 a.m. Ethnic groups protest in a show of opposition to the coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi, despite some misgivings about her commitment to their aspirations for autonomy, community representatives said. “We can’t form a federal country under dictatorship. We can’t accept the junta,” Ke Jung, a youth leader from the Naga minority told Reuters.
3:20 a.m. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price offers condolences on the death of a protester in Myanmar “We are saddened to see media reports that a protester shot by police in Naypyidaw on February 9 has died, marking the first reported death … as a result of security forces response to the protests,” Price said.
“We applaud yesterday’s announcement of sanctions by the United Kingdom and Canada against the Burmese military leaders responsible for the coup,” Price also says, adding that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had discussed with Australian, Indian and Japanese counterparts “the urgent need to restore the democratically elected government in Burma.”