Myanmar coup latest: Supermarkets and factories reopen amid protests

YANGON/BANGKOK — On Feb. 1, Myanmar’s military detained State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in the country’s first coup since 1988, bringing an end to a decade of civilian rule.

The Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy had won a landslide in a general election last November. But the military has claimed the election was marred by fraud.

For all our coverage, visit our Myanmar Coup page.

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Myanmar: Inside the coup that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s government

Follow the latest developments here (Yangon time):

Tuesday, Feb. 23

8:40 p.m. Even as street protests continue, some major supermarkets and shopping centers have reopened, as have garment factories.

“I have to earn a living, so I can’t take part in protests every day, but we closed yesterday,” a restaurant owner says, referring to Monday’s general strike.

Government offices and banks remain in effect closed as their workers take part in the civil disobedience movement.

Meanwhile, military leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing was quoted in state media as telling his ruling council to “put its energy into reviving the country’s ailing economy.”

5:00 p.m. Malaysia’s immigration department says it has carried out a repatriation program involving 1,086 Myanmar nationals, despite an earlier court order to stay the deportation. Department Director-General Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a statement the people were sent back on three Myanmar navy ships and did not include ethnic Rohingya refugees or asylum-seekers.

2:30 p.m. Members of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, say that their complaint to the police about a Feb. 9 raid on their headquarters was not taken seriously.

They say police have “accepted” their complaint, but not acted on it. As such, the NLD will bring the case to “a higher level of police authority,” they say.

2:21 p.m. The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven rich countries say the use of violence against people protesting against the coup in Myanmar is unacceptable and perpetrators must be held to account.

Police officers advance toward protesters in Yangon on Monday, when a massive crowd took to the streets to protest against the military coup and demanded the release of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, whom Myanmar’s military detained on Feb. 1.   © Getty Images

“We condemn the intimidation and oppression of those opposing the coup. … We remain united in condemning the coup in Myanmar,” the foreign ministers say in a joint statement, adding, “We call again for the immediate and unconditional release of those detained arbitrarily, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.”

1:40 p.m. A Malaysian court allows a temporary stay of deportation of 1,200 Myanmar nationals scheduled to be sent back to their strife-torn homeland, after rights groups petitioned, saying deportation could endanger their lives.

1:00 p.m. A sign at a shop selling phones in Yangon reads, “We won’t sell products to people who do not participate in CDM [the Civil Disobedience Movement].”

According to the store manager, this shop was kept closed on Monday. “All shops in downtown closed, and we are also one of them,” he said, explaining the reason for the shop’s closure was “to allow the employees to do what they wanted yesterday,” indicating the shop encouraged its staffers to join the protests.

A sign at a shop selling phones in Yangon reads, “We won’t sell products to people who do not participate in CDM [the Civil Disobedience Movement].”

12:00 p.m. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says Myanmar’s transition to democracy after this month’s coup should follow the wishes of its people. “The inclusive democratic transition should be pursued according to the wishes of the Myanmar people. Any way forward is the means to this end,” Retno said in a message sent to Reuters by her office.

11:30 a.m. Groups gather in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon to protest against Indonesia’s plan for new elections. On Monday, Reuters reported that Indonesia is pushing for the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations to agree on an action plan over the coup that would hold the junta to its promise of conducting elections, with monitors to ensure they are fair and inclusive, but not seek the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Protesters gather near the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon on Tuesday. (Photo by Yan Naing Aung)

Lei Wah, a 29-year-old office staffer who came to the embassy to protest, said: “I’m upset with the plan. We don’t need to redo the election. If we hold one, it means we agree with the junta. The election was already held in November, and we accepted it.”

10:30 a.m. Witnesses say the crowd at Sule Pagoda Road, the main street in downtown Yangon, is smaller than yesterday. Factories and shops have reopened after a general strike the day before.

A 32-year-old man working at a bag factory who was protesting said: “Me and the generation older than me suffered under the previous military rule — the education was very bad, and we were always afraid of the police. I don’t want that to happen again.”

9:00 a.m. Protesters start to gather in the Hledan district of central Yangon, marking the 18th day since large-scale street demonstrations started on Feb. 6. Police block the road near the U.S. Embassy, where crowds have called for Washington to put more pressure on the junta.

People gather to protest the coup in a commercial district of Yangon on Tuesday.

8:00 a.m. The U.S. Treasury Department announces additional sanctions on two military officials who are members of the State Administration Council. A department statement says the sanctions are “in response to the Burmese security forces’ killing of peaceful protesters.”

2:00 a.m. Local media report that around 10 p.m. on Monday night, security forces searched the house of a teacher who had joined the civil disobedience movement in downtown Yangon. The security forces reportedly left after finding she was not there. Talk of night arrests has been circulating among protesters since the coup.

1:20 a.m. The European Union is ready “ready to adopt restrictive measures” targeting leaders of the Myanmar coup, the Council of the EU said in a statement.

“At the same time, the EU will continue reviewing all its policy tools as the situation evolves, including its policy on development cooperation and its trade preferences,” the statement says.

EU nation foreign ministers meeting today have decided on a “set of targeted” measures in response to the coup, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell tells reporters, but he stopped short of endorsing a cancellation of the preferential tariff treatment that has benefited manufacturers in low-cost Myanmar.

Monday, Feb. 22

11:00 p.m. Britain’s minister for Asia has summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to the U.K. for a second time this month and condemned the military’s actions against demonstrators.

Nigel Adams tells Kyaw Zwar Minn “the use of violence and force against protesters, which has already led to death and serious injury, was completely reprehensible and must stop,” according to a statement by a Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office spokesperson.

This marks the latest instance of British pressure on the Myanmar military for its Feb. 1 coup and subsequent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.

Adams said the U.K. will “maintain the international spotlight on human rights violations and use all diplomatic levers available,” according to the spokesperson.

Demonstrators hold placards as they take part in a protest against the military coup in Yangon on Feb. 22. (Photo by Yan Naing Aung)

10:30 p.m. “The military must step aside,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab tells the Human Rights Council. “Civilian leaders must be released. And the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar must be respected.”

Raab says the U.K. will co-sponsor a resolution to renew mandate of the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar.

Speaking at the same council session, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein does not mention the deportation issue but says his country will “continue robust advocacy for the rights of peoples who have long been subjected to human rights abuses, such as the Rohingyas.”

9:10 p.m. The Malaysian arms of human rights groups Amnesty International and Asylum Access have filed a judicial review in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to block plans to deport 1,2000 back to Myanmar in cooperation with the Myanmar military.

“This effort to halt the deportation is based on information from refugee groups evidently indicating that asylum seekers and refugees are among the individuals being sent to Myanmar,” said Katrina Jorene Maliamauv, executive director of Amnesty International Malaysia, in a joint statement. “There are also reports that those due to be deported include children in detention with at least one parent still in Malaysia. Separating children from their parents is an extremely inhuman practice that places these minors at grave risk and goes against the best interest of the child.”

“We believe the three UNHCR document holders have a legitimate expectation that they would not be sent to Myanmar, and deporting them would be in violation of their rights and in clear breach of the non-refoulement principle that the Malaysian government is bound by,” added Tham Hui Ying, executive director of Asylum Access Malaysia.

Malaysia has given assurances that it will not deport members of the Rohingya Muslim minority or refugees registered with the UNHCR.

3:21 p.m. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls on Myanmar’s military to halt repression and release hundreds of people detained since the coup on Feb. 1, Reuters reports.

“We see the undermining of democracy, the use of brutal force, arbitrary arrests, repression in all its manifestations,” he says Monday while addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. “Restrictions of civic space. Attacks on civil society. Serious violations against minorities with no accountability, including what has rightly been called ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population. The list goes on.”

“Today, I call on the Myanmar military to stop the repression immediately. Release the prisoners. End the violence. Respect human rights and the will of the people expressed in recent elections,” he says.

3:20 p.m. The European Union is considering imposing sanctions on Myanmar as a last resort following the coup and crackdown on protesters, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tells reporters ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts Monday morning.

“We are not prepared to stand by and watch,” Maas says upon his arrival in Brussels. “We will use all diplomatic channels to push for a de-escalation in Myanmar but at the same time, as a last resort, prepare sanctions on the military regime in Myanmar.”

Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar pack the streets as they gather near Mandalay Railway Station on Feb. 22.    © AP

1:30 p.m. More people join the demonstrations in Yangon. “We are not afraid of the armed forces at all, but we have no weapons,” says a salesman on Sule Pagoda Road. “We are protesting here peacefully, and they cannot shoot us. I am excited — today’s protest is the biggest I have seen in my entire life.”

Outside Sakura Tower, protesters experience both excitement and concern. “We must be involved, but we are also fearful,” says a 27-year-old civil engineer. “I don’t think they will shoot because of all the media, international organizations and embassies watching the situation.”

“We have some fear, but we are fighting dictatorship,” a 22-year-old university student says at a sit-in protest outside Sakura Tower. “We will fight for democracy in our country until we achieve it. We are very excited that our generation is fighting for justice.”

“We are now guarding the students’ rally, for their safety. We don’t want any harm done to them — lives matter,” says Linn Mg Mg Swe, a 25-year-old student and biker. “Generations are different. I think 22222 is better than the 8888 uprising as we have better strategies. We will win this revolution.”

Mon Mon, 35, is another among the protesters. “In 1988, I was just 3 years old,” she says. “I experienced the Saffron Revolution, but I didn’t participate because it didn’t interest me. But now I’m out on the streets because I can’t accept this kind of injustice and unfairness in our country. For now, I feel like I’m dutiful to my country because of taking part in this protest. If I was not in here, I would be feeling guilty.”

People take to the street in Yangon in response to the killings in Mandalay during the weekend.  

8:00 a.m. A massive demonstration against the military coup begins. General strikes have been called via social networking services. Large supermarkets and factories are temporarily closed. The gathering is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations since the coup.

In Yangon, crowds gather on the main street in the center of the city to complain about the tyranny of the military. Although the authorities have banned groups of more than five people, many citizens have ignored the order and are taking part in the demonstration. “The police are scary, but we are doing this to restore a democratic system,” a 25-year-old man says in front of the United Nations office.

The military deploys riot police in front of U.S. and Chinese embassies and U.N. offices, where many demonstrators have gathered, and block roads around the area.

On Saturday, security forces opened fire on a protest in Mandalay, the second-largest city in the country. Two demonstrators were killed when police and soldiers fired into a crowd to disperse protesters, sparking even higher tensions.

Activists called for a major protest on Monday to mourn the dead, dubbing it “22222” after the date, Feb. 22. The number is an allusion to 8888 — Aug. 8, 1988 — the date a pro-democracy uprising kicked off nearly 33 years ago, which ended up a bloodbath.

People gather near the United Nations office in Yangon on Feb. 22.

1:50 a.m. The European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, made up of member states’ foreign ministers, is scheduled to meet on Monday. The situation in Myanmar will likely be on the agenda. A key question is to what extent ministers will discuss proposals for sanctions, including the possibility of reviewing preferential tariff treatment for Myanmar.

These preferences, introduced after the country’s shift to civilian rule in the early 2010s, have fueled the growth of Myanmar’s garment and apparel exports. Monday’s meeting is likely to coincide with more large-scale protests in Myanmar.

Sunday, Feb. 21

11:30 p.m. Some scenes from Yangon, where protestors held a candlelight vigil against the coup.

11:00 p.m. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reports that 640 people in Myanmar have been arrested, charged or sentenced since the Feb. 1 coup.

1:30 p.m. City Mart, a leading supermarket chain, announces its stores will be closed on Monday and reopen on Tuesday.

1:00 p.m. The funeral of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, the young woman shot in the head by police, ends in Naypyitaw, the capital.

12:00 p.m. Activists call for a major protest on Monday to mourn the dead. They dub it 22222 based on the date, Feb. 22. The number is an allusion to 8888 — Aug. 8, 1988 — the date a six-week mass pro-democracy uprising kicked off nearly 33 years ago.

9:40 a.m. Police have arrested Lu Min, a famous actor wanted for supporting opposition to a Feb. 1 coup, his wife announces. The army said on Wednesday the celebrity was wanted under an anti-incitement law for encouraging civil servants to join protests. The charges can carry a two-year prison sentence. His wife, Khin Sabai Oo, said in a video posted on his Facebook page that police had come to their home in Yangon and taken him away.

9:34 a.m. Facebook removes military’s main page under its policy of prohibiting the incitement of violence, the company said. “In line with our global policies, we’ve removed the Tatmadaw True News Information Team Page from Facebook for repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm,” a Facebook representative said in a statement. The Myanmar military is known as the Tatmadaw.

9:30 a.m. Medical staff prepare for emergencies in Yangon. One says: “We are here to save the lives of people.”

5:32 a.m. The United States is “deeply concerned” by reports that Myanmar security forces have fired on protesters and continue to detain and harass demonstrators and others, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in tweet.

“We stand with the people of Burma,” Price tweeted. Myanmar is also known as Burma.

Saturday, Feb. 20

11:55 p.m. The U.K. will consider further action against those involved in violence in Myanmar against people protesting the coup, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab says, after two people were killed when police and soldiers fired to disperse protests.

“The shooting of peaceful protesters in Myanmar is beyond the pale. We will consider further action, with our international partners, against those crushing democracy & choking dissent,” Raab says in a tweet.

Britain imposed sanctions on three Myanmar generals on Thursday, accusing them of serious human rights violations following the coup.

8:48 p.m. Singapore expresses its dismay at reports of civilian casualties following the use of lethal force by security forces against demonstrators.

“The use of lethal weapons against unarmed civilians is inexcusable,” the Foreign Ministry says in a statement. Two people were killed in Myanmar’s second city Mandalay when police fired to disperse people protesting against the Feb. 1 military coup there, the bloodiest day in more than two weeks of demonstrations.

Singapore has been the largest source of foreign investment into Myanmar in recent years. “We strongly urge the security forces to exercise utmost restraint to avoid further injuries and loss of lives, and take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and restore calm,” Singapore’s Foreign Ministry says.

6:35 p.m. Two people were killed in Myanmar’s second city Mandalay when police fired to disperse protesters. “Twenty people were injured and two are dead,” says Ko Aung, a leader of the Parahita Darhi volunteer emergency service agency in the city.

A volunteer doctor confirms there had been two deaths: “One shot in the head died at the spot. Another one died later with a bullet wound to the chest.”

3:00 p.m. The older sister of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, the 20-year-old woman who was killed during the protests, says her funeral will be held on Sunday in the capital, Naypyitaw. “I really want the international community to help our country, rather than just watching, she said.

12:00 p.m. Protesters gather outside the Chinese Embassy in Yangon for a moment of silence to mourn a 20-year-old protester who was killed during demonstrations on Friday. “She was young and had a lot of opportunities, but now everything had been destroyed. The military is just [staying power with] weapons, and it keeps threatening us,” said one male protester.

11:35 p.m. Railway staff march in Yangon and show support for the civil disobedience campaign in Myanmar.

11:00 a.m. Ethnic groups protest in a show of opposition to the coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi, despite some misgivings about her commitment to their aspirations for autonomy, community representatives said. “We can’t form a federal country under dictatorship. We can’t accept the junta,” Ke Jung, a youth leader from the Naga minority told Reuters.

3:20 a.m. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price offers condolences on the death of a protester in Myanmar “We are saddened to see media reports that a protester shot by police in Naypyidaw on February 9 has died, marking the first reported death … as a result of security forces response to the protests,” Price said.

“We applaud yesterday’s announcement of sanctions by the United Kingdom and Canada against the Burmese military leaders responsible for the coup,” Price also says, adding that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had discussed with Australian, Indian and Japanese counterparts “the urgent need to restore the democratically elected government in Burma.”

To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.

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