A surveillance group in Myanmar has called for international action and expressed concern about the torture and murder of anti-coup protesters in the Southeast Asian nation after the military broadcast pictures of six young detainees with serious signs of abuse.
In the images broadcast on MRTV owned by the military on Sunday evening, the faces of four men and two women looked bloody and injured. One of the women had a swollen jaw and what appeared to be a black eye.
“This junta uses torture as its policy,” the Political Prisoners Aid Association (AAPPB) said in a tweet.
“If the international community does not act, torture and death will clearly continue.”
According to the AAPP, security forces have killed 737 people and rounded up 3,229 more across the country since the February 1 coup.
Encouraged by impunity
This junta uses torture as its policy
AAPP is concerned about all those detained, especially in unknown locations
When the international community doesn’t act. Torture and death clearly continue. Pic.twitter.com/6pGU3tSVT3
– AAPP (Burma) (@aapp_burma) April 18, 2021
“The APP is concerned about all detainees, especially in unknown locations,” it said.
# Myanmar military checked the images on the right – young women they had arrested and bearing harrowing signs of abuse – on the nightly news today. The fact that they felt free to show – and wanted to – these images speaks volumes. #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/lt5CeNc06B
– Poppy McPherson (@poppymcp) April 18, 2021
The six detainees were arrested on Sunday in Yankin, a suburb of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, according to Tony Cheng of Al Jazeera.
The MRTV spokesman said the six were involved in a bombing outside the Yankin government office, where three government soldiers were injured, on Saturday at 2 p.m. (07:30 GMT). They didn’t provide any further information, ”said Cheng from Bangkok, the capital of neighboring Thailand. “And we’ve seen the military government quite falsely accuse people of crimes. We have also seen them use this tactic since the military coup, showing people in custody, presumably as a deterrent to those who still go out and protest. “
Myanmar has been in chaos since Major General Ming Aung Hlaing came to power on February 1st. In the face of ongoing protests, murders and mass arrests, the United Nations has warned that the situation in Myanmar may be heading towards “full-blown conflict” – similar to the Syrian civil war in the Middle East.
“We can be more brutal than you”
Kim Jolliffe, a civil and military relations researcher in Myanmar, said the military’s decision to send pictures of the six detainees was aimed at instilling fear.
“The junta’s strategy in Myanmar from start to finish is based on the same move: ‘We can be more brutal than you. We can be more shocking and terrifying than you, ”Jolliffe said in a tweet. “That’s all you have. But it has no limits. “
The #Myanmar Junta strategy from start to finish is based on the same move:
“We can be more brutal than you …
We can be more shocking and terrifying than you. “
That’s all they have. But it has no limits. # WhatsHappeningInMyanmar # Apr18Coup https://t.co/Qg3MjLUFVN
– Kim Jolliffe (@Kim_Jolliffe) April 18, 2021
Twitter users have compiled pictures of the six people before and after their arrest. Some appealed to the demonstrators not to give up their opposition to the coup. “This is the kind of junta we face,” wrote Twitter user Shwe Yee. “We must not give up what we are doing for our freedom. You cannot oppress us with fear. “
The violence has been condemned by Western countries and unprecedentedly criticized by several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Myanmar joined under a previous military rule.
The group of 10 tried to find a way out of the turmoil in Myanmar, but the military has shown little willingness to deal with its neighbors and no sign of wanting to speak to members of the civilian government that it overthrew .
In the first hint of progress in the grouping, a Thai government official said Saturday that Min Aung Hlaing would be attending an ASEAN summit in Indonesia on April 24, his first meeting with foreign leaders since taking power.
However, ASEAN’s invitation sparked outrage in Myanmar. A newly formed government of national unity, made up of deposed members of the elected parliament and other opponents of the military, appeals to the regional bloc to negotiate with it instead of the military.
“There is widespread disapproval in Myanmar,” said Al Jazeera’s Cheng. “You want ASEAN to speak to the Government of National Unity. They are very concerned that if Min Aung Hlaing is accepted into the group at this ASEAN meeting, it will be much easier for the military to take control of Myanmar and legitimize their coup. “
The military overthrew the elected government of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, claiming fraud was widespread in an election won by their National League for Democracy in a landslide last November. However, the electoral commission denies the allegations.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, has not been seen in public since she was arrested on the day of the coup. She is now facing a series of criminal charges that could result in her being banned from office for life.