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Military’s ‘Heart Of Darkness’ In Myanmar


The military and its brutal practices have been on the global stage since a coup last month. The generals are now fully back in charge, and the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has turned its guns on the masses, who have mounted a nationwide civil disobedience movement.

But the military has a long legacy of atrocities that has instilled an omnipresent fear in Myanmar.

During the last three years, the Tatmadaw has waged war against ethnic rebel armies in three states, Rakhine, Shan and Kachin, displacing 700,000 Rohingya Muslims. Survivors and witnesses described to us the campaign, which has included killings, systemic rape and abuse. Men and boys were often used as human shields by the soldiers.

In October, Sayedul Amin, a 28-year-old Rohingya man, was fishing when he and others were rounded up by soldiers. “We were ordered to walk in front of the soldiers,” he said. “It seems that they wanted us to shield them if anyone attacked.” He was hit by two bullets.

“This is an army with a heart of darkness,” said David Scott Mathieson, an independent analyst. “This is an unrepentant institution.”

Brutality is ingrained in the Tatmadaw. It first came to power in a 1962 coup, saying that it had to safeguard national unity. For decades, it has fought to control parts of the country inhabited by minority groups that are rich in jade, timber and other natural resources.

Irrawaddy adds : Myanmar’s anti-regime protests in many cities have continued on Tuesday despite intensified crackdowns, detentions and raids over the previous days.

On Monday night, after the 8pm curfew, thousands of protesters took to the streets in many Yangon townships. People left their homes after news spread that hundreds of young protesters had to hide in strangers’ homes in Sanchaung after the security forces began rounding people up after Monday’s protests.

The news of potential raids and hundreds of detentions in Sanchaung spread quickly on social media.

Thousands of people took to the streets in many townships to show solidarity with protesters in Sanchaung. The US, UK, Canada and United Nations diplomatic missions immediately issued statements condemning the security forces for blocking streets to prevent demonstrators returning home.

Earlier, the security forces announced that they would search every home to hunt down protesters and told residents to hand over anyone they were sheltering.

After the nighttime protests started elsewhere in Yangon and the diplomatic community condemned the regime’s response, the security forces only searched a few homes. Most protesters managed to escape on Tuesday morning with residents’ help.

Around 50 protesters who had been hiding were reportedly detained during the night.

A protester, who hid overnight in Sanchaung, told The Irrawaddy this morning that she and her friends were trapped after soldiers and police blocked exit routes from the township after a crackdown on their protest near the corner of Kyuntaw and Bargayar streets at midnight.

In Lanmadaw, central Yangon, residents reported that soldiers arrested at least 25 male residents in the township at around 1am. Lanmadaw vigilantes stopped a carload of strangers in the neighborhood wearing civilian clothes during the curfew and found weapons in the car. The men, who were soon released by the residents, said they were military personnel. Residents claimed the captured soldiers returned later, raided homes and seized residents.

At least 25 male residents in Lanmadaw Township were reportedly arrested on Monday night.

More arrests and raids

In Nyaungdon Township, Ayeyarwady Region, two women and five men were detained in a crackdown on Tuesday, a resident told The Irrawaddy. The security forces used rubber bullets to disperse protesters. On Monday, at least 15 protesters were detained in Ayeyarwady Region.

Two civilians were injured and several others detained when police and military personnel clamped down on anti-regime protests in Mohnyin, Kachin State, at around 10am on Tuesday. A man was hit in his arm by a live bullet and a woman was injured by at least three rubber bullets.

A Tanintharyi Region news outlet reported that at least 50 student protesters and some residents who hid them in Myeik Township were detained.

In Hakha Township, Chin State, a charity clinic opened by doctors who had joined the civil disobedience movement was raided at around 11:30am and a doctor was detained, according to the Hakha Post.

In Ye Township, Mon State, an ethnic Kayin protest was broken up with three young Karen protesters detained and others injured, Myanmar Now reported.

Anti-regime protesters in Loikaw facing a crackdown on Tuesday.

At least 2,000 people have been detained by the regime since the Feb. 1 coup, including elected leaders, lawmakers, election officials, protesters and civil servants who joined the civil disobedience movement.

Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said on Monday that protests had been staged in more than 200 townships and 29 men and five women had died due to security forces’ response to “rioters” while operating legally.

The military regime said riot police had not been ordered to use live ammunition to control crowds.

The media has counted at least 60 deaths since mid-February with many victims shot in the head.

Courtesy – NYT

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