Yangon, Myanmar — A Burmese journalist with the BBC’s Myanmar language information service went “missing” on Friday, as civilians fled the coup-hit nation’s largest metropolis after the junta’s lethal crackdown on dissent.
Myanmar has been in turmoil because the army ousted civilian chief Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, triggering a mass rebellion that safety forces have sought to crush with a marketing campaign of violence and worry.
The junta has additionally gone after the nation’s press corps, revoking the licenses of 5 unbiased native broadcasting providers, raiding newsrooms, and arresting journalists working to cowl the information.
On Friday, the BBC’s official press Twitter account launched a press release on its “missing” journalist, Aung Thura.
“We are extremely concerned about our BBC News Burmese Reporter, Aung Thura, who was taken away by unidentified men,” it stated.
The British broadcaster stated he disappeared round noon, and that it was doing all the things it might to find him.
“We call on the authorities to help locate him and confirm that he is safe,” the assertion added.
Local media outlet Mizzima additionally stated that one in all its reporters, Than Htike Aung, was “arrested” within the capital Naypyidaw on Friday, in accordance with its official Facebook web page.
The two reporters had been collectively after they had been taken.
Since the coup, greater than 30 journalists have been arrested, in accordance with the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.
Among the detained is Thein Zaw, a photojournalist with the Associated Press, who has been charged with “causing fear, spreading false news or agitating directly or indirectly a government employee”.
‘Turn into a pile of ash’
Even as safety forces have deployed tear gasoline, rubber bullets, and dwell rounds to quell dissent, demonstrators throughout the nation have pushed on to demand a return to democracy.
On Friday, no less than two extra protesters had been killed in a small buying and selling city in northeastern Myanmar, a funeral residence worker informed AFP by telephone.
He added that extra had died, however “we have not picked up the bodies because there is still shooting”.
In neighboring Kayah state, a bystander was killed when safety forces opened hearth on a protest, a rescue employee informed AFP.
The contemporary violence brings the demise toll in Myanmar because the coup to close 230, in accordance with the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.
Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital and business hub, stays one of many key spots of unrest — with the junta imposing martial legislation over six townships this week.
The transfer successfully places almost two million folks underneath the direct management of army commanders.
But a lot of Yangon has descended into chaos, with safety forces patrolling and opening hearth randomly in residential areas — like Tamwe and Thaketa, each hard-hit protest areas, on Friday.
A Facebook video shot by a Tamwe resident — verified by AFP — confirmed dozens of troopers and police opening hearth repeatedly and slowly stalking down a road as they shouted at folks to “come out”.
“We will turn your whole quarter into a pile of ash!” they threatened. “Do you want to see your whole quarter turned into a pile of ash?”
Several terrified residents informed AFP they’ve both left Yangon already or are planning to depart for rural areas.
“I no longer feel safe and secure anymore — some nights I am not able to sleep,” a resident close to one of many districts the place safety forces have killed protesters this week informed AFP.
“I am very worried that the worst will happen next.”
One resident informed AFP he feared being shot by safety forces, who had been threatening folks if they didn’t clear barricades.
“We are like house rats searching for something to eat in another person’s kitchen,” stated one man who described the worry of leaving his home this week to get milk for his two kids.
Mobile information throughout Myanmar has additionally been down since Monday, plunging these with out Wifi into an information blackout.
Foreign ambassadors — together with the US and former colonial energy Britain — stated Friday in a press release that the “brutal violence against unarmed civilians… is immoral and indefensible”.
Preparing for refugees
Across the Myanmar border in Thailand’s Tak province, authorities stated they had been getting ready shelters for an inflow of potential refugees.
“If many Myanmar people flow across the border because of an urgent case, we have prepared the measures… to receive them,” stated provincial governor Pongrat Piromrat.
He stated Tak province would be capable of assist about 30,000 to 50,000 folks, although he confirmed that nobody seems to have flooded throughout the border but.
About 90,000 refugees from Myanmar already dwell alongside the porous border, fleeing a long time of civil struggle between the army and ethnic armed teams.
The junta has repeatedly justified the facility seizure by alleging widespread electoral fraud in November’s elections, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) occasion swept in a landslide.
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