YANGON: Myanmar was bracing for a crackdown on anti-coup protests on Sunday after reports of tanks in the street and troop movements in the country’s largest city amid fears of another nationwide internet blackout.
Much of the country has been in uproar since soldiers detained Aung San Suu Kyi and ousted her government, ending a decade-old fledgling democracy after generations of junta rule.
Troops briefly moved some armoured vehicles around Yangon, days after security forces stepped up arrests targeting a civil disobedience movement that has seen huge crowds throng streets in big urban centres and isolated frontier villages alike.
Traditional allies of the country’s armed forces, including Russia and China, have dissociated themselves from what they have described as interference in Myanmar’s “internal affairs”.
EU, US, Britain urge military not to use violence against protesters; Russia, China term it country’s ‘internal affair’
Foreign ambassadors in Myanmar urged the country’s military regime not to use violence against anti-coup protesters after reports of troops deploying in parts of the country.
“We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” said a statement signed by the European Union, United States and Britain. A US embassy-affiliated Twitter account warned late Sunday of possible telecommunications interruptions “between 1:00 am to 9:00 am” on Monday local time.
“There are indications of military movements in Yangon and the possibility of telecommunications interruptions overnight,” according to the embassy’s official American Citizen Services account.
Norway-based Telenor — which has blocked Facebook and Twitter at the request of the government since the coup — did not respond to request for comments.
But it announced late Sunday on its site that it is “not possible for Telenor to disclose the directives we receive from authorities”.
The news of a telecommunications blackout comes as authorities have stepped up tactics against protesters, with security forces dispersing a demonstration in northern Kachin state by firing at protesters.
“They threw the tear gas first and then opened fire constantly to disperse the people,” a local journalist said, adding that it was unclear if the authorities used live rounds or rubber bullets.