…US threatens action over Myanmar coup as Australia calls for release of detained leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
… Myanmar military says carried out the detentions in response to “election fraud” in last November’s general election
Myanmar’s military detained the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior figures from the governing party on Monday, seizing power in a coup less than 10 years after it handed over power to a civilian government.
The military said it carried out the detentions in response to fraud in last November’s general election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won by a landslide.
A statement on military-owned television said Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was now in control of the country and that a state of emergency had been imposed for one year.
“With the situation we see happening now, we have to assume that the military is staging a coup,” Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the NLD, told the AFP news agency on Monday.
Here is how governments, human rights groups and others are reacting.
The NLD, in a statement that carried Suu Kyi’s name, called on Myanmar’s public not to accept the military coup.
“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” the statement said. “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”
Thant Myint-U, a prominent Myanmar historian and author, said in a tweet that the coup had opened doors to “a very different future”.
“I have a sinking feeling that noone will really be able to control what comes next,” he said. “And remember Myanmar’s a country awash in weapons, with deep divisions across ethnic and religious lines, where millions can barely feed themselves.”
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne expressed deep concern “at reports the Myanmar military is once again seeking to seize control of Myanmar and has detained State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint”.
“We call on the military to respect the rule of law, to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and others who have been detained unlawfully.”
United States –
A spokeswoman for US President Joe Biden said Washington was “alarmed” by reports of the Myanmar military’s “steps to undermine the country’s democratic transition” as well as the arrest of Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders.
“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The US Secretary of State, Antony J Blinken, also expressed “grave concern” in a statement and urged the military to “reverse” its actions immediately.
“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. The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development,” he said.
United Nations –
Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, “strongly condemned” the detention of Myanmar’s civilian leaders on the eve of the opening session of the country’s new parliament.
He also expressed “his grave concern regarding the declaration of the transfer of all legislative, executive and judicial powers to the military,” and added: “These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar.”
India’s foreign ministry said it “noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern”.
“India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
Singapore’s foreign ministry urged all sides in Myanmar to show restraint.
“Singapore expresses grave concern about the latest situation in Myanmar. We are monitoring the situation closely and hope all parties involved will exercise restraint, maintain dialogue, and work towards a positive and peaceful outcome,” the ministry said in a statement.
Katsunobu Kato, the chief cabinet secretary, said Japan’s government was closely watching the situation in Myanmar and would do everything possible to ensure the safety of its citizens there.
“At this point there are no reports of any clashes, but we’ll update information and take measures as needed,” he told reporters.
“Japan believes it is important for the parties to solve problems peacefully through dialogue in accordance with the democratic process,” he added.
The Philippines is prioritising the safety of its citizens in Myanmar and sees events in the country as “an internal matter that we will not meddle with”, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte said.
Human Rights Watch –
Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, called for the immediate and unconditional release of Suu Kyi and “all others unlawfully detained”.
“The military’s actions show utter disdain for the democratic elections held in November and the right of Myanmar’s people to choose their own government,” he said in a statement.
“We are especially concerned for the safety and security of activists and other critics of the military who may have been taken into custody. The military should recognize that it will be held accountable for its actions, including any mistreatment in custody and excessive use of force. We urge concerned governments to speak out forcefully against the military’s actions and consider targeted sanctions against those responsible.”
Ming Yu Hah, deputy regional director at Amnesty International, called the arrest of Suu Kyi and others “extremely alarming”.
“Reports of a telecommunications blackout pose a further threat to the population at such a volatile time – especially as Myanmar battles a pandemic, and as internal conflict against armed groups puts civilians at risk in several parts of the country. It is vital that full phone and internet services be resumed immediately.”
(With Agency reports)