Myanmar’s military has seized power and declared a state of emergency for one year following days of escalating tension over the result of November’s parliamentary elections.
Aung San Suu Ky, the country’s de facto leader, President Win Myint and other senior members of the National League for Democracy party were detained in the capital, Naypyidaw, on Monday.
A video broadcast on military-owned television said power was handed to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, citing “huge irregularities” in November’s vote.
The power grab came as parliament – in which the military is given 25 percent of the seats – was set to open in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Human rights group called for the immediate and unconditional release of activities and senior officials, including the country’s de facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi, who were arrested in early morning nationwide raids.
“The military needs to urgently de-escalate this situation and unconditionally free those detained today,” said Matthew Smith, CEO of Fortify Rights.
“The military should cease any further arrests and issue guarantees of the safety and well-being of those detained,” Smith said in a press release.
“The military should lift any blocks on mobile communications and respect the right to free expression. Access to information is critical for the Myanmar public right now,” he said as authorities reportedly cut mobile-communication signals.
“The military must respect the results of the 2020 elections and allow the Parliament to convene as scheduled,” Smith added.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs said it was concerned over the latest developments in Myanmar, adding that is was “closely” watching the situation.
“We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar,” read a statement from the ministry.
“We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely,” it added.
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined the chorus of voices who are condemning the latest developments in Myanmar.
“I condemn the coup and unlawful imprisonment of civilians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar,” Johnson said on Twitter.
“The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released,” he added.
China said that it hoped that all sides in Myanmar could properly manage their differences under the constitution and legal framework and uphold stability, after the military seized power in a coup.
“China is a friendly neighbour of Myanmar and hopes the various parties in Myanmar will appropriately resolve their differences under the constitutional and legal framework to protect political and social stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily news briefing.
Wang said China, which shares a border with Myanmar, was still “furthering our understanding of the situation.”
European Council President Charles Michel condemned the military’s seizure of power in Myanmar and demanded that it release of all those it had detained in raids across the country.
“The outcome of the elections has to be respected and democratic process needs to be restored,” Michel, who heads the body that represents the EU’s 27 national leaders, wrote on his Twitter account.
Human Rights Watch’s Asia Advocacy Director, John Sifton urged the US and other countries to send a strong message to the military by imposing direct sanctions.
“The military junta that ruled Myanmar for decades never really stepped away from power in the first place … They never really submitted to civilian authority in the first place, so today’s events in some sense are merely revealing a political reality that already existed,” Sifton said on Twitter.
“The U.S. and other countries with sanctions regime should send a strong message today, by immediately revoking sanctions relaxations and imposing strict and directed economic sanctions on the military leadership and its enormous economic conglomerates; and pressing other key counties — including South Korea and Japan — to force businesses to divest. The Burmese junta doesn’t want to go back to being China’s vassal,” he added in another tweet.
The Rohingya community condemned the military power grab, according to its leader Dil Mohammed.
“We Rohingya community strongly condemn this heinous attempt to kill democracy,” Dil Mohammed told Reuters news agency by phone.
“We urge the global community to come forward and restore democracy at any cost.”
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expressing alarm about Myanmar’s military detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders.
“We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” Blinken said in a statement from Washington, DC.
“The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately.”
United Nations’ Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the detention of the country’s civilian leaders.
He expressed “grave concern” about the declaration that all legislative, executive and judicial powers have been transferred to the military. “These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar,” said a statement from the UN chief’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.
Guterres said the elections last November provided a strong mandate for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy to govern. The announcement that the military was taking control came on the first day Myanmar’s Parliament was to convene following the November elections.
The military has argued the vote was tainted by fraud, but the elections commission last week rejected those claims as lacking evidence.
Malaysia called on all parties to resolve any electoral disputes peacefully.
“Malaysia supports the continuation of discussion among Myanmar’s leaders to avoid adverse consequences to the people and state of Myanmar, especially in the current, difficult COVID-19 pandemic situation,” its foreign ministry said in a statement.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) released a statement from its chief Suu Kyi, saying the military’s actions were unjustified and went against the constitution and will of voters.
A verified Facebook page for Suu Kyi’s party published comments it said had been written in anticipation of a coup, and which quoted her as saying people should protest against the military takeover.
“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” it said. “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”
SOURCE : AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES