Myanmar police go door-to-door hunting for protesters in night-time raids after sealing off 200 people in a block of streets as military crackdown continues
- Security forces sealed off 200 people in a block of streets as night fell in Yangon
- Police raided apartments flying the flag of Aung San Suu Kyi’s democracy party
- Three more protesters were killed in protests elsewhere as crackdown continues
Myanmar police went door-to-door searching for pro-democracy protesters last night as the ruling generals try to stamp out protests against their military junta.
Security forces sealed off a block of streets in Yangon and said they would punish residents if they found protesters from out of town hiding in their homes.
Police were targeting apartments flying the red-and-gold flag of Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party, residents said as raids continued into the night.
The barricade sparked alarm from the UN and Western powers who demanded the release of the people trapped, saying some of them were female protesters who had been holding peaceful marches for International Women’s Day.
But the military crackdown was continuing elsewhere with three protesters killed in demonstrations in northern Myanmar and the Irrawaddy Delta on Monday.
Myanmar security forces wearing helmets and carrying riot shields occupy a Yangon district where 200 people were barricaded in their neighbourhood as night fell on Monday
Police officers in the Sanchaung district where raids were targeting apartments flying the flag of Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party
A police vehicle drives past a building after authorities seized Sanchaung district last night
Demonstrators gather behind a barricade during an anti-coup protest in Loikaw on Tuesday
Despite the ongoing crackdown, thousands of people last night defied a night-time curfew to take to the streets in support of the people trapped in Yangon.
The trapped protesters, including many young people and students, were sealed off in the Sanchaung district which has seen daily rallies since the February 1 coup.
As night fell, police firing guns and using stun grenades said they would check houses for anyone outside the district and punish anyone hiding them.
Security forces started searching apartments after a nightly internet shutdown blanketed the country at 1am local time, residents said.
‘They searched every building on Kyun Taw road – they destroyed the locks of apartment buildings if they were locked downstairs,’ said one resident.
Sharp loud bangs were heard coming from the area, although it was not clear if the sounds were caused by gunfire or stun grenades.
One watchdog said around 50 people had been arrested in Sanchaung after police searched houses, though checks were still being made.
By dawn, security forces appeared to have retreated, allowing some protesters to escape from the area.
Police are seen on the streets of Yangon as the search for anti-coup demonstrators takes place on Monday night after protesters once again defied a military curfew
People get into a police vehicle in Myeik, left, while police hold riot shields in Yangon, right
Protesters wearing hard hats, holding signs and standing behind shields take to the streets in Yangon on Tuesday
One protester posted on social media early on Tuesday to say that they had finally been able to leave the area at around 5am after security forces pulled out.
Another youth activist, Shar Ya Mone, said she too had been able to go home but vowed to keep demonstrating ‘until the dictatorship ends’.
Makeshift barricades of bamboo, sandbags, tables and barbed wire have been set up by protesters in an effort to slow security forces in the area.
UN chief Antonio Guterres had earlier called for the safe release of all protesters, a call echoed by the UK and US diplomatic missions in Myanmar.
State television MRTV earlier said: ‘The government’s patience has run out and while trying to minimise casualties in stopping riots, most people seek complete stability (and) are calling for more effective measures against riots.’
MRTV also announced a major curb on media coverage on Monday, saying that the licences of five local media outlets had been cancelled.
‘These media companies are no longer allowed to broadcast or write or give information by using any kind of media platform or using any media technology,’ the military said.
Protesters with makeshift shields and masks take their positions in Mandalay on Tuesday
Demonstrators flee away from tear gas during an anti-coup protest in Loikaw on Tuesday
Chaos on the streets of Loikaw today as anti-coup demonstrations continued despite the military crackdown
The offices of Myanmar Now, one of the outlets affected, were raided by the authorities Monday before the measure was announced.
DVB, another of the banned outlets, said it was not surprised by the cancellation and would continue broadcasting on satellite TV and online.
‘We worry for the safety of our reporters and our staff, but in the current uprising, the whole country has become the citizens’ journalists and there is no way for military authorities to shut the information flow,’ executive director Aye Chan Naing said.
The army takeover and arrest of elected leader Suu Kyi has led to protests in which more than 60 have died and 1,800 have been arrested, an advocacy group says.
The police have responded with an increasingly brutal crackdown and parts of Yangon have emerged as flashpoints as protesters continue to defy authorities.
The Monday night raids came after three protesters were shot dead at rallies on a day when many shops, factories and banks closed as part of a general strike.
The military has denied responsibility for loss of life in the protests and defended seizing power by alleging widespread electoral fraud in November’s elections.
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