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UN Warns Myanmar As Protesters Face Down Military

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Concerns are growing over the potential for violence in Myanmar as anti-coup protesters urge supporters to take to the streets en masse, in defiance of the military generals who have deployed troops in major cities.

Protests and civil disobedience movements against the military coup on February 1 have been the biggest in decades, with thousands calling for ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be released from detention and power be handed back to civilian control.

A mas rally in downtown Yangon was called for Wednesday, after a second charge was filed against Suu Kyi Tuesday.

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Her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said that she had been charged in relation to a national disaster law, in addition to an earlier count under the country’s import and export act.

“Let’s gather in millions to take down the dictators,” activist Khin Sandar wrote on Facebook, according to Reuters.

Kyi Toe, a senior member of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party who has not been arrested, said: “Let’s march en masse.

Let’s show our force against the coup government that has destroyed the future of youth, the future of our country.”

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said he was “terrified” of the potential for violence if the planned mass protests and military troops converge.

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“I fear that Wednesday has the potential for violence on a greater scale in Myanmar than we have seen since the illegal takeover of the government on February 1,” said Andrews.

Andrews said he had received reports of soldiers being transported into Yangon from outlying regions.

“In the past, such troop movements preceded killings, disappearances, and detentions on a mass scale,” he said.

“We could be on the precipice of the military committing even greater crimes against the people of Myanmar.”

Soldiers from the Myanmar military’s light infantry divisions (LIDs).. long documented to be engaged in human rights abuses… have been seen in the country’s largest city, Yangon, in the past week.

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These elite counter-insurgency forces come under direct orders from Myanmar military’s commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, and they have been accused of human rights violations, carrying out violent campaigns against ethnic minority armed groups and civilians, and have a history of brutally crushing protests.

Conflict-ready infantry troops trained to fight ethnic rebels in the jungles and mountains and who now appear armed on city streets is cause for worry, analysts say.

“These light infantry divisions, these are the ones to be concerned about,” said Human Rights Watch researcher on crisis and conflict Richard Weir.

“These are the kinds of units that can be deployed very quickly to city streets.”

Weir described the LIDs as an “expeditionary force that goes out when other units aren’t able to handle a certain situation.”

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It is unclear how big of a presence these soldiers have in Yangon. So far clashes between security forces and protesters have been isolated skirmishes.

Myanmar military soldiers from the 77th Light Infantry Division stand guard armoured vehicles on February 15, 2021 near the Central Bank in Yangon, Myanmar.

Myanmar military soldiers from the 77th Light Infantry Division stand guard armoured vehicles on February 15, 2021 near the Central Bank in Yangon, Myanmar.

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The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. Opinion articles, comments are solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of BlazeNewz while we endeavour to keep the information accurate with objectivity as we adhere to global practice of journalism. Read our full Disclaimer.

Hammed Tajudeen is the editor in-chief of Blaze News, holds Higher National Diploma(HND) in Mass Communication, graduated from Osun State Polytechnic, Iree.

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