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Burmese generals under renewed pressure after sanctions and mass protests – Times of India

YANGON: Myanmar military leaders came under new pressure at home and abroad on Tuesday, with tightened sanctions from Washington and Brussels, and some of the biggest protests against their government since taking power three weeks ago.
Authorities have gradually stepped up their use of force against a massive and largely peaceful campaign of civil disobedience demanding the return of the ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
So far, three anti-coup protesters have been killed in protests, while a man patrolling his Yangon neighborhood against late-night arrests was also gunned down over the weekend.
Overnight, the United States blacklisted two other regime members – Air Force chief Maung Maung Kyaw and another junta member Moe Myint Tun – after announcing targeted sanctions against other high-level generals earlier this month.
“We will not hesitate to take further action against those who commit violence and suppress the will of the people”, Secretary of State Antony Blink mentionned.
He called on the regime to end attacks on peaceful protesters, journalists and activists, release prisoners held since the coup and “restore the democratically elected government”.
Washington’s announcement comes hours after the European Union approved sanctions against Myanmar military personnel and their economic interests.
“Any direct financial support from our development system to government reform programs is withheld,” said Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief.
But he said the bloc would not restrict trade relations for fear of harming the general population.
The Burmese military deployed tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets against protesters, with isolated incidents of use of live ammunition.
They also increased the presence of security forces in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and commercial center.
More than 680 people have been arrested since the February 1 coup, according to the watchdog group of the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, with almost all still behind bars.
Nighttime internet shutdowns have also become routine, stoking fears of arrests of anti-coup protesters during power cuts.
The crackdown failed to quell weeks of massive street protests, joined by large numbers of striking government officials, bank workers and healthcare workers.
Tens of thousands of people gathered on Monday in the capital Naypyidaw, a military stronghold. More than 100 people were arrested as police chased protesters through the streets.
Protesters in Yangon ignored security forces and barricades erected around the city to organize impromptu vigils for protesters killed in the unrest.
“We can only pray for them,” said student Thura Myo. “Even when we are sad, our voices will be heard by the international community.”
Labor boycotts have hit the government administration as well as businesses and the banking sector, and over the weekend the junta issued a disturbing warning suggesting its patience was running out.
“Protesters are now urging people, especially teens and emotional youths, on a path of confrontation where they will suffer the loss of their lives,” a message released to state media said.
Suu Kyi has not been seen since being detained in a dawn raid, but has been charged with two charges by the junta, one of them for possession of non-walkie talkies. recorded.
His hearing is scheduled for March 1.

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