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Circling back to Myanmar

Myanmar is now entering its sixth month of military rule, after a coup in February this year. While much of the media coverage has slowed, the violence has not stopped, and there are daily protests where police clash with civilians. Let’s circle back. 

The background 

How did Myanmar get here? The military seized control of Myanmar on February 1, just as a new session of Parliament was about to begin. The military commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, seized power. Since the coup, former democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained, along with other members of her party, and they are being held in unknown locations. In response to the coup, mass protests have erupted across the country and have been ongoing since February 1. 

Journalists and protesters freed

As we spoke about above, over 2,000 detainees were released from prison in Myanmar on Wednesday morning, including anti-coup protesters and journalists. Videos circulated around social media, showing those who had been freed stepping off buses and into the embrace of family and friends. 

The news service Myanmar Now said its reporter Kay Zon Nway was freed after 124 days. Myanmar Now’s Editor-in-Chief Swe Win said in a text message, “like many other political detainees, she was unfairly arrested. She has suffered a lot in prison. But today, I’m glad to see her again in great spirits”.  

A COVID-19 message 

Recently, former leader San Suu Kyi sent out a message through her lawyers, warning about COVID-19, encouraging those in Myanmar to take care and follow the necessary protocols. “She told the lawyers to be careful of COVID-19, reminding us to wash our hands and wear masks,” San Suu Kyi’s lawyer Min Min Soe said. “She also asked to send the same message to the people to be more cautious of COVID-19”, she said. 

The military-controlled Health Ministry reported 1,225 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, however some health experts say the real rate of infections is likely to be higher (testing has declined since the coup). This week’s average COVID-19 testing numbers have sat around 5,500 a day, compared to more than 17,000 a day in the week before the coup.

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