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Myanmar: Ethnic rebel groups express support for anti-coup protesters

Myanmar: Ethnic rebel groups express support for anti-coup protesters”

On Friday, the UNSC issued a statement condemning the military for the use of violence against anti-government protesters in Myanmar, following a closed-door meeting.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military seized power on February 1, triggering a massive uprising across the country with protesters demanding the restoration of the elected government.

The UN Security Council on Thursday "strongly condemned" the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Myanmar, in a unanimous statement watered down by China after two days of tough negotiations.

Myanmar security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protests on Saturday killing at least five people, a protester and media said, as the military reinforced its bid to end dissent with arrest warrants for online critics and internet blocks. One police officer, who was carrying a gun, asked if "anyone dared to help them", a witness told the news service.

As well as breaking up protests with tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds, security forces have detained some 2,700 people.

"Let's listen to the radio again. Let's make phone calls to each other too". Access to mobile networks and all wireless - the less costly options used by most people in the developing country - remained blocked on Saturday.

Reuters could not immediately verify the reports and a junta spokesman did not answers calls seeking comment.

"That's what I want to tell you guys before the internet is down", Khin Sadar, a protest leader, posted on Facebook.

Another image shared widely showed an overhead view of hundreds of candles arranged on a road in the darkness, forming the words "we will never surrender".

Some taking part in the protest held roses aloft while making three-finger salutes, a symbol of resistance. One arrangement of dandelions and red roses on a lakeside walkway read: "Myanmar is bleeding".

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The junta has said those killed instigated violence.

Several of the major groups - including the Kachin, the Karen and the Rakhine Arakan Army - have denounced the coup and said they will defend protesters in their territories. The commission has dismissed that assertion. They then marched through the streets chanting slogans calling for the fall of the junta, the release of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of democracy.

Breaches of the colonial-era law are punishable by 14 years in prison.

Also Friday, a South Korean bank said it temporarily closed its branch in Yangon and was considering bringing its South Korean employees back home after security forces fatally shot one of its Myanmar employees.

On Friday evening, state media announced charges against 18 television celebrities, social media influencers and a journalist for "circulation of material meant to cause a member of the armed forces to mutiny or disregard their duty". All of them are known to oppose military rule.

Western countries have condemned the bloodshed and Australia has suspended military co-operation with Myanmar and redirected aid to non-government organisations in response.

The lawmakers who have set up a parallel civilian government, the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), also announced the abolishment of a 2008 constitution set up by the military that guarantees the army's influence.

Wang said China welcomed and supported a long-standing principle of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of not interfering in each other's internal affairs, even though there have been signs in recent weeks that adherence to the principle is wearing thin. But there is growing dismay with a country that has for decades raised global concerns over its domestic repression.

French renewable energy giant Voltalia said it was also withdrawing from the country because of the political and humanitarian crisis. Stronger positions on Myanmar have been taken by the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, the top diplomats of which are meeting separately this week with Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi in Beijing.



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