In full health distress, Burma protests for the six months of the coup

It will be six months, Sunday 1is August, that the Burmese army seized power by overthrowing the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. In a televised address, the leader of the Burmese junta Min Aung Hlaing pledged, on this anniversary date, to organize new elections “By August 2023”. “We are working to establish a democratic multi-party system”, assured the former head of the army.

On July 26, the junta annulled the results of the legislative elections of November 2020, won overwhelmingly by the National League for Democracy (NLD) of Aung San Suu Kyi, ensuring that more than eleven million cases of fraud had been detected, this that the party denies. “The votes were tainted by the NLD which inappropriately abused its executive power”, hammered Min Aung Hlaing.

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“Burma is ready to cooperate with ASEAN [l’Association des nations de l’Asie du Sud-Est] within the framework decided by the association and to dialogue with its special envoy ”, added the head of the Burmese junta. The foreign ministers of the ASEAN countries will meet on Monday to appoint a special envoy to Burma, in order to put an end to the violence in the country and to establish a dialogue between the junta and its opponents.

The fear of the junta and the Covid-19

Even before his passage in force, the general was already an outcast for the Western capitals because of the bloody repression carried out by his men against the Rohingya Muslim minority. He has been targeted by new sanctions since the coup.

“I promise to fight this dictatorship as long as I live”, “We will not kneel under the boots of the military”, posted on Sunday young opponents on social networks, to mark the six-month anniversary of the coup that plunged the country into chaos. But the majority of Burmese remain locked up at home. Terrified by the junta’s repression and the epidemic outbreak, very few of them dared to take to the streets. Small demonstrations were organized, as in Kaley (west) where residents marched under banners in tribute to political prisoners: “The songs of the prisoners are forces for the revolution”, could we read on one of them.

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The UK has warned the United Nations that half of the population, or around 27 million people, could be infected within the next two weeks, calling the situation “Desperate”. Burmese army “Uses the Covid-19 as a weapon against the population”, recently lamented Susanna Hla Hla Soe of the government of national unity, set up by opponents in hiding.

Despite the political, economic and health chaos, the junta continues its repression to muzzle any opposition. In six months, 940 civilians were killed, including 75 minors, hundreds have disappeared and more than 5,400 are behind bars, according to a monitoring NGO.

“Murders, enforced disappearances, acts of torture, rapes (…) these attacks against the population amount to crimes against humanity for which those responsible must be held to account ”, noted Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch on Saturday.

However, armed resistance is organized against the military.

However, despite this hardness, a form of resistance is organized. The peaceful protests gave way to an armed response, led by citizen militias, the People’s Defense Forces (PDF). Some lead an urban guerrilla war, others have found refuge in the north and east of the country, in territories controlled by rebel ethnic factions who train them and launch their own operations against the military.

These different movements remain independent of each other to keep as many fronts open as possible. “There is a strong spirit of unity against the army and for a federal Burma. It’s totally new in the country ” dominated since its independence in 1948 by interethnic conflicts, underlines Françoise Nicolas, Asia director at the French Institute of International Relations.

Financial sanctions did not bend the generals

If, militarily, the junta is destabilized by these insurgent groups, it retains control economically. It manages many businesses, from beer to precious stones, and has regained control since the putsch on natural gas, which represents an annual rent of around $ 1 billion.

The financial sanctions put in place by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom did not bend the generals, protected by their Chinese and Russian allies. And the resolution of the UN General Assembly, adopted at the end of June to call for “All member states to prevent the influx of arms” towards the country, is not binding.

Indicted for a multitude of offenses (illegal importation of walkie-talkies, corruption, sedition…), Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest, risks long years in prison. A first trial, denounced as “A parody of justice” by many observers, opened in mid-June.

The World with Reuters