Myanmar crisis deepens with latest developments 

Yangon Edited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Mar 23, 2021, 10:53 PM IST
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A file photo of Myanmar protests Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

At a press conference in Naypyitaw, the army aired a video testimony of Yangon's former chief minister, who claimed to have bribed Suu Kyi several times. Whether the video was shot under duress is anybody's guess

The crackdown on the pro-democracy movement is turning ugly. Two teenagers have been shot dead. They are the youngest civilians to get killed since the coup unfolded but the protests continue unabated. 

At the same time, the junta has aired new allegations of bribery against Aung San Suu Kyi and it is investigating an Australian citizen for breaching Myanmar's Official Secrets Act. 

14-year-old Tun Tun Ang went out to fetch some water for his family but he was shot dead in indiscriminate firing by security forces. His mother weeped uncontrollably and collapsed as an open-casket funeral was held. 

Mother of deceased 14-year-old civilian Tun Tun Aung, said, "I said to him 'my son, you are so young. If you want to follow (the protest), I will accompany you and cheer you on', but now, this breaks my heart." 

In a nearby township, another funeral was held as another teenager had died, 15-year-old Zaw Myo Htet, who was shot in the head at a tea shop. His mother is heart-broken and helpless. Mother of 15-year-old civilian Zaw Myo Htet, said, "It was known that my son had died from a gunshot at about 12 o'clock midnight on March 21. He said he will give his salary to me. He was supposed to come back to our village in April but now, he left me. I feel heartbroken by this military, as they brutally murdered my son. I want to kill them, as they killed my son. I want them to lose their lives like my own son did." 

These two teenagers have become the youngest civilians to get killed since the February 1 coup. Their deaths have only strengthened the resolve of the protesters.  

Meanwhile in Yangon, protesters released dozens of red balloons in defiance of the brutal crackdown. 

In the city of Dawei, thousands of university students marched on the streets with one slogan 'our fight must prevail' and in Mandalay, the protesters are using slingshots to deal with bullets. 

The determination of these protesters is catching the world's attention. The European Union has decided to sanction 11 more people involved in the coup. 

Josep Borrell, European Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, said, "On Myanmar, we took stock of the situation in the country which sadly continues to deteriorate dramatically following the military coup. There are more than 250 people killed by the army using arms of war against the demonstrators. We have imposed sanctions against 11 individuals responsible for the ongoing repression." 

Germany has decided to sanction those involved in the crackdown. German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, said, "Today, we will discuss Myanmar. What we are witnessing there in terms of violent excesses is absolutely unacceptable. The amount of murders has reached an unbearable level and that's why we won't be getting around imposing sanctions, but aimed at those in charge of what is happening on the streets." 

But the sanctions might do little to stop the crackdown from targeting the people of Myanmar. The junta is now going after foreign citizens. It is investigating Australian Economist Sean Turnell for breaching the country's Official Secrets Act. 

Turnell was once an advisor to the Myanmar govt. He is now under detention. So is the ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. It's been seven weeks since anybody saw her. As concerns over Suu Kyi's health rise, the army has filed fresh charges of corruption against her. 

At a press conference in Naypyitaw, the army aired a video testimony of Yangon's former chief minister, who claimed to have bribed Suu Kyi several times. Whether the video was shot under duress is anybody's guess. 

Former Yangon chief minister, Phyo Min Thein, said, "I went into Aung San Suu Kyi's house carrying silk and food in shopping bags that also included 20 packs of 100 sheets of $100 notes per pack, which were $200,000 in total, and 25 gold bars, each of them 160 grams (0.35 lbs) of academy-branded gold bars totalling 4 kilograms (8.8 lbs) of gold by myself and I handed them to her own hands, telling her to use them for personal needs or for her party's victory or for the Daw Khin Kyi foundation or wherever needed." 

51 days since the military coup, the turmoil in Myanmar is yet to end. The death toll has breached the 250 mark and the world needs to do more than just imposing sanctions.