(Reuters) – Myanmar troops stormed an anti-coup protest camp on Wednesday, a resident said, in a pre-dawn campaign that local media reported killed and wounded several protesters, as activists challenged bloody clashes and an internet blockade by the junta was in control.
Myanmar has been in chaos since a coup on February 1 that brought a short period of civil-led democracy to a standstill and sparked protests and strikes across the country, despite the controlling army’s use of lethal force to break down resistance . Violence erupted as troops stormed the protest site on Wednesday in the town of Kale in the Saigang region, a hotspot of unrest, where protesters demanded the restoration of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, a resident told Reuters.
News outlets cited witnesses saying there were repeated casualties and firearms. A Mizzima news outlet said three people were killed and posted pictures on Facebook of a fire burning near parked vehicles and soldiers with rifles in the street.
The Kale resident said the information was provided to him by witnesses, who took photos of five dead bodies. Reuters could not independently verify the information.
The ability of the youth-led organization to organize anti-coup campaigns and share information via social media and instant messaging has been severely hampered by broadband wireless internet kiosks and mobile data services.
Fixed-line services, which many in Myanmar do not have access to, are still available.
“Myanmar has been subject to a gradual collapse in the information abyss since February,” Alp Toker, founder of NetBlocks internet blocking observatory told Reuters on Wednesday. “Communication is now very limited and only available to the few.”
With print media also suspended, protesters have sought remits to get their message across, producing their own A4 size daily news brochures that are digitally shared and printed for distribution the public.
On Tuesday, Dr Sasa, who leads a parallel government of the remains of the Suu Kyi administration, said in a statement that his legal counsel would present evidence of military atrocities to various UN human rights bodies.
He said lawyers for his Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) had received 180,000 items of evidence and would meet on Wednesday with representatives of an independent investigative mechanism for Myanmar.
Some 581 people, including dozens of children, have been shot dead by soldiers and police in unrest almost daily since the coup, and security forces have arrested close to 3,500 people, with 2,750 still in detention, according to the Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group.
JUNTA ‘COLLINE MANAGEMENT’
Arrest warrants have been issued for hundreds of people, with the junta this week chasing scores of influencers, entertainers, artists and musicians.
The country’s most famous comedian, Zarganar, was arrested on Tuesday, local media reported.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab discussed how Britain and the international community could support an effort in Southeast Asia to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Wednesday, after meeting her British counterpart in Jakarta.
Indonesia is among several countries in Southeast Asia leading a campaign to hold high-level regional talks on Myanmar.
Western countries including the United States, Britain and Australia have imposed or tightened sanctions on the generals and the army’s vast network of business monopolies in response to the coup, custody and use of lethal force against demonstrators.
The European Union is expected to follow suit.
Russia, which has shown support for Myanmar’s ruling military council, said Tuesday that the West risks triggering a civil war in the country by imposing sanctions on the military junta.
Fitch Solutions said in a report published Wednesday that only targeted Western sanctions were likely to succeed in restoring democracy. He foresaw in the medium term a violent revolution between an army on one side and an armed opposition involving members of the anti-coup movement and an ethics militia.
Some ethnic military, which control large parts of Myanmar’s border regions, have said they cannot stand aside as the junta kills people and have already engaged the army in skirmishes.
Fitch said Myanmar is aiming to be a failed state.
“The increasing violence on civilians and ethnic militia shows that the Tatmadaw are increasingly losing control of the country,” he said, adding that the vast majority of people support the parallel government.