Myanmar coup latest: Pope cites ‘violence, conflict and repression’
People hold a banner in Saint Peter’s Square after Pope Francis held a mass for Myanmar residents of Italy in the Vatican on May 16. © Reuters
Nikkei staff writers | Myanmar
YANGON/BANGKOK — Myanmar’s military on Feb. 1 detained State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in the country’s first coup since 1988, bringing an end to a decade of civilian rule.
The Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy had won a landslide in a general election in November. But the military has claimed the election was marred by fraud.
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Follow the latest developments here (Yangon time):
Sunday, May 16
10:10 a.m. During a special mass for the Myanmar community in Italy, Pope Francis says the people of the country must not despair in the face of evil or allow themselves to be divided. “Your beloved country of Myanmar is experiencing violence, conflict and repression,” the pope said at St. Peter’s Basilica. He urged drawing inspiration from the final hours of Jesus Christ. Francis visited Myanmar in 2017 and has been outspoken against the junta since the Feb. 1 coup. The predominantly Buddhist country is home to fewer than 800,000 Roman Catholics.
3:20 a.m. A total of 63 people have been killed in recent attacks by junta opponents, according to junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun. “Terrorists are planting bombs in public areas and there are some injuries among the people,” he told a news conference, while asking for information on the attackers.
Saturday, May 15
11:45 p.m. Fighting breaks out between the army and local militia fighters in the northwestern town of Mindat, residents say, in some of the heaviest fighting since the military seized power three months ago.
The fighting underlines the growing chaos as the junta struggles to impose order in the face of daily protests, strikes and sabotage attacks after it overthrew Suu Kyi.
“We are running for our lives,” a resident tells Reuters from Mindat, a hill town just over 100 km from the border with India.
“There are around 20,000 people trapped in the town, most of them are kids, old people,” the resident says. “My friend’s three nieces were hit by shrapnel. They are not even teens.”
The junta imposed martial law in Mindat on Thursday and then stepped up attacks on what it called “armed terrorists.”
9:10 p.m. Sai Kan Nyunt, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, has been found dead with many stab wounds, local media reports.
To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.