Myanmar coup latest: US sanctions junta itself in latest move with allies
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):
Monday, May 17
10:30 p.m. The Biden administration has added Myanmar’s State Administrative Council — the body created by the junta to replace the ousted government — to a list of U.S. sanctions targets.
“Today, the United States is announcing new sanctions against Burma’s military regime in response to its continued violence and repression against the people of Burma, most recently in Mindat, Chin State, and its failure to take any steps to restore Burma’s democratic transition,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.
Sixteen officials have also been added to the U.S. list. Thy include technocrats and civilians in charge of economic ministries and the central bank. All property and interests in property of the persons named in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked.
A U.S. analyst says it is “highly unusual to sanction the council as an entity but leave some names out including foreign minister.”
The U.S. move is part of coordinated new sanctions actions with the U.K. and Canada. The U.K. announces sanctions on Myanmar Gems Enterprise, a state-owned firm now under the junta’s control. Canada sanctioned 16 individuals and 10 entities.
9:30 p.m. The U.K. announces sanctions on Myanmar Gems Enterprise, a distributor of jade and other precious stones that has already been blacklisted by the U.S.
6:00 p.m. The 2020 Myanmar general election reflected “the true will of the electorate,” according to a final comprehensive report by The Asian Network for Free Elections, an international monitoring group, which counters the junta’s allegation of electoral fraud.
ANFREL says it hopes Myanmar will “soon return on the rightful path to an elected civilian government.”
3:30 p.m. The Mindat People’s Administration announces on Facebook that fighting between the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) — a newly formed ethnic militia — and the military is ongoing in the western state of Chin, bordering India. The administration is acting as the CDF’s political unit. It added in its post that seven locals had been killed during the recent fighting. The State Administration Council, as the junta is formally known, declared martial law in the northwestern town of Mindat on Thursday.
Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin appears onstage at the National Costume Show, part of Miss Universe 2021, on May 13 in Hollywood, Florida. © Getty Images
10:30 a.m. Thuzar Wint Lwin, Myanmar’s Miss Universe contestant, who has made it to the finals, used the pageant on Sunday to urge the world to speak out against the military junta. “Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said in a video message for the competition in Hollywood, Florida, according to Reuters. “I would like to urge everyone to speak about Myanmar. As Miss Universe Myanmar since the coup, I have been speaking out as much as I can,” she said.
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.
Pope Francis celebrates Holy Mass for the community of the faithful of Myanmar resident in Rome, at the Vatican, on May 16. © Reuters
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
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, according to local media reports.
To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.