Junta declares martial law in six townships after killing record numbers

Fires continued to burn Monday morning in Yangon’s Hlaing Thar Yar Township. Photo: Yu San Kyi
Fires continued to burn Monday morning in Yangon’s Hlaing Thar Yar Township. Photo: Yu San Kyi

The military declared martial law via its Myawaddy TV mouthpiece across much of Yangon this morning and shut off mobile internet traffic a day after its security forces killed the most yet in a single day.

The bridges leading to Hlaing Thar Yar were open and quiet had returned this morning after at least 20 people were gunned down there yesterday in what is Yangon’s westernmost township. The new order extends the martial law declared there and in Shwe Pyi Thar last night to Dagon Seikkan, South Dagon, North Dagon, and North Okkalapa townships.

“The situation here is now under control,” Zaw Min, a 22-year-old resident of Hlaingthayar told Coconuts this afternoon. “People are still going out, and we can see soldiers at the top of the streets. Gunshots can sometimes be heard, but it’s far from here.”

City hospitals today reported that at least 130 people were injured and 59 killed Sunday in Yangon alone, setting a new one-day toll in the bloody suppression of protests that raged daily against last month’s military coup. The number of civilians killed by state security forces now numbers nearly 150.

A medical student was among those killed yesterday, footage of which angered many after it spread widely.

More than 20 reportedly died in Hlaing Thar Yar and six in Shwepyithar in crackdowns by troops. Arsonists set fire to two Chinese-owned factories afterward.

Martial law was declared in both areas last night after the Chinese embassy called on the junta to take “effective measures to stop all acts of violence and bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure the safety and security of Chinese businesses and individuals in the country.”

Beijing has faced growing resentment over its perceived support for the military takeover.

Though it may appear redundant following last month’s military takeover, martial law effectively transfers remaining civilian administrative authorities to the military. Field commanders are empowered to take necessary actions, and civilians compelled to obey them. Civilian courts are suspended with military tribunals empowered to prosecute, convict and execute suspects after brief trials. An 8pm to 4am curfew was already in place nationwide.

Military division commanders may designate operational areas and appoint military commanders with the approval of the junta. Civilians may be tried by military tribunals and executed with the approval of junta leader Min Aung Hlaing.

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Phones severed from the net

Mobile internet has been cut off across the country, including in Yangon. Fixed connections and Wi-Fi hotspots could be used again as of 7am, but mobile internet remains blocked until further notice. A rep from ISP Myanmar Net said they had not received any order to cut off the internet.

Residents reported telephone lines down and communication difficult in some areas. The internet has been cut off overnight, usually from about 1am to 9am, for the past 29 days. Access to Facebook was blocked days after the Feb. 1 coup and remains only accessible over VPN connections.

Deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was supposed to appear in court by video today, but it was  rescheduled to March 24 due to technical problems – and lack of internet – her lawyer said.


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