UN warns Myanmar junta of ‘severe consequences’

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The UN has warned Myanmar’s military there would be “severe consequences” for any brutal suppression of the ongoing anti-coup protests there.

UN Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener said “the right of peaceful assembly must fully be respected”.

Access to the internet in Myanmar was restored on Tuesday morning after it had been cut off for a second night.

The junta has been regularly blocking the web to try to stifle dissent since the 1 February coup.

Ms Schraner Burgener’s warning came during Monday’s phone call with the junta’s deputy head Soe Win, a UN spokesperson said.

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The special envoy stressed that internet blackouts “undermine core democratic principles”.

Myanmar has seen days of protests following a military coup which saw the junta overthrow elected leaders, including longtime democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, due to alleged voter fraud.

The military has not provided any evidence to support these claims.

Protesters were out again early on Tuesday, with crowds gathering in cities like Yangon and Mandalay. Leakblast reports monks were seen heading out on the streets of Yangon in a mostly peaceful scene.

Outside the city, protesters were pictured lying down on the tracks in a bid to disrupt services. According to reports, train services between Yangon and the southern city of Mawlamyine were blocked as a result.

The turnout at recent protests appeared to have grown smaller than the ones seen last week, which saw tens of thousands of people in attendance, as the military has stepped up its presence.

The military has also announced stiff penalties for those opposing the coup leaders, saying people preventing the security forces from carrying out their duties could face 20 years in prison, while those found to stir up fear or unrest in public could be imprisoned for terms of three to seven years.

On Saturday, it gave itself the power to make arrests, carry out searches and hold people for more than 24 hours without a court ruling, while telling journalists not to describe the military’s takeover as a coup.

Recent days have also seen a step up in violence, with reports of security forces firing rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

In footage posted on social media, the sound of what appears to be gunshots can be heard as crowds flee, with several people later appearing to display injuries.

Residents in several cities are reported to have formed night-watch groups to deter mobs rumoured to have been dispatched by the military to cause unrest.

Last night’s internet shutdown follows a pattern aimed at disrupting continuing opposition to the coup and the detention of leaders, including Ms Suu Kyi, whose party won a resounding victory last November.

Access to Facebook, a rallying point for a campaign of civil disobedience, was restricted soon after the coup. Use of Twitter and Instagram was also disrupted.

But activists also fear the blackout may be used to arrest more people.

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