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Resources updated between Monday, March 01, 2021 and Sunday, March 07, 2021

March 4, 2021

The placard of the United States at the U.N. Human Rights Council

Nikki Haley: Joe Biden Is Going Backward at the United Nations Article

March 3, 2021

A protest against the military coup in Myanmar (File photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Several people died across Myanmar Wednesday after another day of demonstrations against the country's military junta.

Reuters news agency says at least nine people have been killed, including five people in the central town of Monywa, quoting witnesses and media reports. Both Reuters and the Associated Press say a teenage boy was killed in the central city of Myingyan.

Meanwhile, Reuters and Agence France Presse say at least two people have been killed in the second-largest city of Mandalay, with AFP also reporting four other deaths in the Sagaing region.

Security forces used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowds, with witnesses saying live ammunition was also used against the protesters. Several people were reportedly injured, among them reporter Htet Aung Khant with VOA's Burmese service, who was hit by rubber bullets under his arm as he covered the protests.

Myanmar has been mired in chaos and violence since the military's February 1 overthrow of the civilian government and the detentions of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other high-ranking officials. More than 20 people across the country have been killed in the unrest, including 18 people last Sunday, according to the United Nations' human rights office.

The escalating violence has drawn the scorn of Myanmar's regional neighbors and the international community at large. Members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, held an informal meeting via videoconference Tuesday to discuss the situation with their Myanmar counterpart.

ASEAN's chairman issued a statement after the meeting calling "on all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution, through constructive dialogue, and practical reconciliation in the interests of the people and their livelihood."

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was far more direct, calling on the regime to restore the democratically-elected government.

"Restoring democracy back on track must be pursued," Marsudi said.

The United States and other Western nations have also demanded Suu Kyi's release, as well as that of her lieutenants, and called on the junta to restore power to the civilian government.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold a closed door meeting on the situation in Myanmar on Friday.

The military has claimed widespread fraud in last November's election, won in a landslide by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party, as justification for last month's coup. Myanmar's electoral commission denied the military's claims of election fraud.

Suu Kyi appeared via videoconference at a court in the capital, Naypyitaw, her first public appearance since she was removed from office and detained by the military.

She was charged with two additional crimes during the session - attempting to incite public unrest and violating a section of the telecommunications law regarding operating equipment without a license.

The 75-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate was already charged with illegally importing and using six unregistered walkie-talkie radios found during a search of her home, and for breaking the country's natural disaster law by holding public gatherings in violation of COVID-19 protocols.

Her next court appearance has been scheduled for March 15.

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said Monday during an address on state television that protest leaders and "instigators" would be punished. He said the army is also investigating financial abuse by the civilian government.

The junta has declared a one-year state of emergency.  Min Aung Hlaing has pledged that new elections will be held to bring about a "true and disciplined democracy" but did not specify when they would take place.    

Myanmar Security Forces Take Aim At Anti-Coup Protesters, At Least 9 Killed Document

March 2, 2021

Islamist fighters in Mali (File photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Suspected Islamist militants riding 4x4 vehicles and armed with machine guns killed nine civilians in attacks on three villages in central Mali late on Sunday, local officials said.

Two different sets of assailants struck the ethnic Dogon villages of Gorey, Simikanda and Djamnati in Mali's Mopti region, which has been ravaged in recent years by Islamist and inter-ethnic violence, the officials said.

Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of Bankass, which is near Gorey and Simikanda, blamed the attacks on the same militants who killed eight people in attacks on a Malian military post and a gendarme base last Thursday.

Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State regularly attack Malian security forces, U.N. peacekeepers and civilians in the area, and they have stoked ethnic conflict between farming communities like the Dogon and Fulani herders.

Guindo and Yacouba Kassogué, the deputy mayor of Doucoumbo, which is near Djamnati, said four people were killed in Gorey, four in Djamnati and one in Simikanda.

"They attacked, set fires and stole cattle," Kassogué told Reuters.

Mali has been in crisis since Islamist militants seized its desert north in 2012, forcing France to intervene the following year to push them back. But they have regrouped and extended their operations into central Mali and neighbouring countries in West Africa's Sahel region.

Suspected Islamists kill nine civilians in central Mali Document

March 1, 2021

Hong Kong protesters (File photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Dozens of leading Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners charged with subversion Document

The UN ambassador from Myanmar, since fired by the military rulers, giving the three-finger salute in what was seen as an act of solidarity with the protestors.

At least 18 people were killed in Myanmar, the United Nations said, as security forces began their toughest crackdown yet against protesters who have taken to the streets for more than three weeks to oppose this month's coup, signaling the military's growing willingness to use lethal force despite international condemnation.

The deaths occurred Sunday in different cities across the country. In Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, at least three people died from bullet wounds and 16 others were injured, including a 31-year-old man who was in critical condition, according to a senior doctor at Yangon General Hospital who is involved in treating the injured. Four people were also killed in the southern city of Dawei, according to an announcement on military-run TV, which said protesters there hadn't complied with orders to disperse.

Images of bloodshed, chaos and, in some places, continuing protests flooded social media, capturing scenes that were corroborated by witnesses. Myanmar news organizations posted pictures and videos showing bloodied protesters surrounded by medics, Yangon's streets filled with tear gas and crowds of men and women, many in hard hats and goggles, scrambling for safety.

The police action on Sunday wasn't limited to one area or city, beginning early in the morning in many parts of the country and signaling a deliberate effort to use greater force. Myanmar's military has a history of deadly crackdowns against pro-democracy protesters, including during mass demonstrations in 2007 and 1988.

"We strongly condemn the escalating violence against protests in Myanmar and call on the military to immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protesters," Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office said. Protesters are demanding that the Feb. 1 coup, which ended Myanmar's decadelong transition to democracy, be reversed and civilian politicians be restored to power. Their marches and gatherings have grown during the past three weeks, drawing hundreds of thousands on some days, and including students, factory workers, bank employees, shopkeepers, tea sellers and civil servants.

Authorities have imposed nightly internet blackouts and detained hundreds, including politicians, activists, protesters and some journalists. More than 470 people were detained on Saturday and more than 570 on Sunday, according to state-run TV. Before Sunday, three people had died in connection with the coup-one in the capital, Naypyitaw, after a bullet fractured her skull and two at a demonstration at a shipyard in the central city of Mandalay.

The U.S. has repeatedly called on Myanmar's military to relinquish power, release those who have been detained and restore Myanmar's democratically elected government.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday condemned the violence in a Twitter post, saying the U.S. would continue to "promote accountability for those responsible."

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. was preparing additional punitive measures against those responsible. "The United States stands in solidarity with the people of Burma, who continue to bravely voice their aspirations for democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights," he said in a statement. "We will continue coordinating closely with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world to hold those responsible for violence to account, and to reinforce our support for the people of Burma."

The crackdown, recorded and circulated widely in Myanmar on social media, makes the country's already uncertain path more fraught, with the military showing no signs of compromise. Many fear an even more heavy-handed response may be coming, as authorities accuse protesters of spreading anarchy and of breaking the law. Before they loosened their grip a decade ago, the generals controlled Myanmar for half a century, despite years of crippling international sanctions and pressure.

The military leaders now in charge have said they plan to hold elections, but few protesters believe any such vote, if it were to take place, would be free or fair. They are demanding that the national elections held in November, in which the country's pro-democracy party beat its military-backed opponent by a huge margin, be honored, and have pledged to continue demonstrations despite the bloodshed.

Human Rights Watch condemned Sunday's violence, saying the "clear escalation in use of lethal force" was outrageous and unacceptable. "The world is watching the actions of the Myanmar military junta, and will hold them accountable," it said.

Hein Ya Za, a 29-year-old activist in Yangon, was on the front lines of a protest in the city's Hledan neighborhood. When he arrived Sunday morning, he said, police were prepared and had already begun cornering protesters as they approached on smaller side streets. Before long, authorities launched tear-gas canisters into the crowds and gunshots rang out, causing many to run for nearby houses that were offering shelter.

"It was chaotic, very difficult to breathe," he said. "But we weren't afraid. We just washed out our eyes and our noses with Coca-Cola, some people used milk, and kept on."

When police began firing live rounds, 22-year-old protester Soe Lay ran as fast as he could to a side street, he said. From there, he saw a man being struck by bullets and fall to the ground, where he lay motionless. Later in the day, Mr. Soe Lay returned to the spot and found a small memorial for the man, who fellow protesters said had died.

Maung Win, 48 years old, arrived at the scene after the shooting had stopped, to help get the injured to hospital. At least half a dozen people appeared to be hurt, including a young man bleeding from his right shoulder. Mr. Maung Win accompanied him to the hospital, alerting the man's wife to the incident. Doctors said the 26-year-old man, who works at a noodle factory, needed surgery, his wife said.

In a different Yangon neighborhood, Ju Jue, 31, said she heard at least three gunshots as she was getting ready to leave her home for Sunday's protest. Her mother ran to the window of their apartment and yelled, "Please don't shoot the young people!"

Ms. Ju Jue and her brother had volunteered to maintain security at the protest, and were preparing to set out onto the street armed only with sticks. Instead they stayed indoors until the chaos outside had subsided. Protest organizers then called on crowds to reconvene about an hour later.

"They cut off the internet, they arrest people, they shoot people, we can't accept this," Ms. Ju Jue said.

In the smaller city of Dawei, police pushed their way into the center of an intersection where protesters had gathered, splitting them into two large crowds and firing shots in both directions, said Nu Nu, a 29-year-old who works for a women's rights nonprofit. Protesters there had none of the protective gear seen in major cities like Yangon: no raincoats, helmets or goggles, she said.

They ran frantically toward houses that had flung open their doors to help them. Ms. Nu Nu ran inside a house and up the stairs to safety as others scrambled all around. She spent the rest of the day collecting tear-gas canisters, bullets and photographic evidence of the assault on protesters.

"We tried to protect ourselves, but from real bullets, you can't protect yourself," she said.

Eighteen Killed in Myanmar's Bloodiest Day of Protests Since Coup Document