DEMOCRACY-FREEDOM: YANGON Myanmar- US orders departure of non-emergency government employees from Myanmar


Myanmar crackdown death toll passes 500

YANGON (AFP) – The death toll in the Myanmar military’s crackdown on protesters has passed 500, as armed rebel groups yesterday threatened the junta with retaliation if the bloodshed does not stop.

World powers ramped up their condemnation of the military’s campaign against the anti-coup movement that is demanding the restoration of the elected government and the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Washington suspended a trade pact with Myanmar and United Nations (UN) Chief Antonio Guterres called for a united global front to pressure the junta after over 100 protesters were killed over the weekend.

Adding to that pressure campaign, a trio of ethnic rebel groups yesterday condemned the crackdown and threatened to fight alongside protesters unless the military reined in its violence.

Daily rallies across Myanmar by unarmed demonstrators have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds.

Security forces stand by on Hledan road in Kamayut township of Yangon in Myanmar. PHOTO: AP

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said it confirmed 510 civilian deaths but warned the true toll was probably significantly higher.

Yesterday, protesters in Yangon emptied rubbish bags in the streets as part of the latest action, while in the town of Muse in Shan state a 35-year-old protester was shot dead.


Three of the country’s myriad armed ethnic insurgent groups – the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army and the Arakan Army (AA) – issued a joint statement threatening retaliation.

“If they do not stop, and continue to kill the people, we will cooperate with the protesters and fight back,” the statement said.

If such groups take up arms, Debbie Stothard at the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) warned that the situation could degenerate into civil war.

Two dozen ethnic minority rebellions flared in Myanmar since independence from British colonial rule in 1948, fighting over autonomy, ethnic identity, drugs and natural resources.

The military sought to cut deals with some armed groups and earlier this month took the AA off the list of terrorist organisations.

But over the weekend it launched airstrikes in eastern Karen state – the first such strikes in 20 years – targetting the Fifth Brigade of the Karen National Union (KNU) after the group seized a military base.

Some 3,000 people fled through the jungle to seek safety across the border in Thailand, according to local groups.

Karen human rights activist Hsa Moo told AFP the Thai authorities had pushed the people back and accused them of blocking UN refugee officials from the area.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha insisted that there was “no influx” of refugees and that the kingdom’s authorities had not “scared them off with guns or sticks”.

Thai police said they had intercepted 10 parcels containing 112 grenades and 6,000 rounds of ammunition in northern Chiang Rai province that had been destined for Myanmar’s notorious border town Tachileik.

US orders departure of non-emergency government employees from Myanmar



WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The United States ordered on Tuesday (March 30) the departure of non-emergency US government employees and their family members from Myanmar due to civil unrest, the State Department said.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army ousted an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1, detaining her and reimposing military rule after a decade of tentative steps towards democracy.

The State Department said in a travel advisory that on Feb 14 it had authorised the voluntary departure of non-emergency US government employees and their family members from Myanmar, and had now “updated that status to ordered departure”.

The White House on Monday condemned the Myanmar military government’s killing of dozens of civilian protesters and renewed a call for the restoration of democracy.

The United States also said on Monday that it was immediately suspending all engagement with
Myanmar under a 2013 trade and investment agreement until the return of a democratically elected government.

Earlier this month, the United States imposed sanctions on two members of Myanmar’s ruling junta, including the chief of police, and two military units, and blacklisted two conglomerates controlled by Myanmar’s military.


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At least 512 civilians have been killed in nearly two months of protests against the coup, 141 of them on Saturday, the bloodiest day of the unrest, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group.

Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on international companies to consider cutting ties to enterprises that support Myanmar’s military and he decried its crackdown on anti-coup protesters.

Mr Blinken told reporters the violence was “reprehensible” and followed a pattern of “increasingly disturbing and even horrifying violence” against demonstrators opposing military rule, including the killing of children as young as five.

The United States has condemned the Feb 1 coup that ousted an elected government. Washington has imposed several rounds of sanctions, but Myanmar’s generals have refused to change course.

Mr Blinken said other nations and companies worldwide should look at pulling “significant investments in enterprises that support the Burmese military”.

“They should be looking at those investments and reconsidering them as a means of denying the military the financial support it needs to sustain itself against the will of the people,” he said.

The United States last week placed Treasury sanctions on two military-owned conglomerates, which prevents US companies and individuals from dealing with them.

But some companies, including firms from US regional allies such as Japan and South Korea, still have business relationships with military-owned companies, according to activist groups.

Activists have also called on international energy companies like US-based Chevron to withhold revenues from natural gas projects they operate in Myanmar from the junta-controlled government.

One of Myanmar’s main ethnic minority rebel groups warned of a growing threat of major conflict on Tuesday and called for international intervention against the military crackdown.



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