March 13, 2021

Thousands defy night curfew to attend vigil in Yangon

Thousands of people gathered in Yangon to attend a vigil on Friday evening despite a night-time curfew and the growing threat of violence from security forces, as protests continue against the military coup.

People came to the Hedlan district of Yangon, many holding candles, according to The Irrawaddy newspaper and other local media. Others carried posters demanding the release of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Nyi Min, a protester from Hledan in the Kamayut township said he and others were rallying peacefully. “This huge crowd is praying for the fallen souls during the revolution against the military coup, who fought for justice,” he told dpa.

“We are tonight here to repeat it again and again. We want justice and we want freedom. We will never accept such a cruel dictatorship in Myanmar.”

Rallies were also held in many other parts of the South-East Asian country after dark, in gatherings that were peaceful at the outset.

The Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which is organizing resistance in the country, tweeted, “People are now gathering in Hledan, Yangon despite pressure of heavy crackdown and violence.”

“We are demonstrating incredible resilience and courage in the face of barbaric brutality and extreme violence. Please do your job, international community!” the CDL said.

Since a military coup at the beginning of February, there have been daily mass demonstrations in Myanmar. The protesters are demanding the release of Suu Kyi and the reinstatement of her civilian government.

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The military is responding to the protests with increasing brutality. More than 60 people have been killed since the beginning of the protests and about 1,900 arrested, according to estimates by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a non-profit organization in Myanmar.

International appeals and sanctions have had no effect so far.

On Friday, South Korea announced a range of measures, including halting the export of military items to Myanmar in response to the junta’s violent crackdown on protests.

The Foreign Ministry in Seoul said it would also carry out strict controls on goods with civilian and military uses, and would suspend defence and security exchanges with Myanmar.

The ministry stressed that no weapons had been supplied to Myanmar since the beginning of 2019.

In a further measure, Seoul is now weighing reconsidering development aid to Myanmar, although it will continue to provide humanitarian aid.

Residency permits for Burmese citizens living in South Korea are to be extended until the situation in Myanmar is stable.

On Thursday, South Korea’s National Security Council condemned the suppression of protests in Myanmar.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the British government updated its travel advice to citizens, advising them to leave Myanmar.

“Political tension and unrest are widespread since the military takeover and levels of violence are rising,” said the advice from the the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

It also noted that there are military-ordered night-time internet shutdowns and money is becoming more difficult to access, with banks shut and cash machines not working.

Vanguard News Nigeria