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War Zone of Hunger and Fear in Yangon as Myanmar’s Last Independent Newspaper is Shut Down

Protest in Myanmar against Military Coup on 14-Feb-2021

Protest in Myanmar against Military Coup on 14-Feb-2021. Photo: MgHla (aka) Htin Linn Aye. CC BY-SA 4.0.


An intensified crackdown has made a war zone out of suburbs of Myanmar’s largest city, which were put under martial law early this week, with soldiers shooting protesters on sight and workers facing starvation, witnesses and aid workers said Wednesday as the regime pulled the plug on the country’s last independent newspaper.

Security personnel have started an intimidation campaign in six of Yangon’s satellite townships — North Okkalapa, North Dagon, South Dagon, Dagon Seikkan, Hlaingthaya, and Shwepyitha — where martial law was declared March 14, and internet service and Wi-Fi have been blocked, witnesses said.

Police and soldiers are opening fire randomly in residential areas and at individual residences, clearing areas street by street, and beating and arresting all suspects, while thousands of people are fleeing the violence and shortages of food and drinking water, local residents said.

“Police and soldiers even stop and search motorbike riders and bicyclists,” said one township resident who did not provide his name. “If they find anything that looks like a weapon, like slingshots, they will make an arrest.”

Another resident said that when security forces stopped cars and motorbikes in one area of the township, they asked drivers to pay bribes to get their confiscated vehicles back.

“A lot of people in our street came back on foot this morning because their cars were seized,” he said.

With phone service cut off in the area, RFA could not confirm reports on social media that said police took away some people and forced them to serve as porters.

Drinking water and food are growing scarce in Hlaingthaya township because of transportation disruptions, residents said. Tens of thousands of migrant workers from other parts of Myanmar are leaving the area — a major factory zone where dozens of Chinese-funded factories were destroyed this week in a clash that killed more than 50 protesters — to return to their homes.

Full story: rfa.org

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane, Ye Kaung Myint Maung, and Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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