Myanmar coup: Military raids Aung San Suu Kyi’s party headquarters

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https://www.bbc.com-image copyright Getty Images

image caption The NLD headquarters were raided late on Tuesday

Myanmar’s military has “raided and destroyed” the headquarters of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), the party has said.

BBC Burmese understands that security forces broke down the doors by force late Tuesday. No party members were present in the building then.

The attack comes as thousands continue to protest against a military coup which removed the NLD from government.

Many are demanding the release of Ms Suu Kyi and senior NLD members.

Their whereabouts are currently unknown and Ms Suu Kyi has not been seen since the coup was launched early last week.

“The military dictator raided and destroyed NLD headquarters at around 930pm,” the National League for Democracy announced on its Facebook page, though it gave no further details.

The raid took place during a nationwide night time curfew, which lasts from 20:00 to 04:00 local time (13:30 to 21:30 GMT).

Gatherings of more than five people have also been banned. But protesters have largely ignored this with tens of thousands taking to the streets on Tuesday for a fourth consecutive day and police responding with a significant use of force, resulting in a few reported injuries.

Early on Wednesday morning, a large group of civil servants had gathered in the capital Nay Pyi Taw to protest, reported local news outlet Myanmar Now.

What happened on Tuesday?

Police deployed water cannon and tear gas at protesters in the capital of Nay Pyi Taw, but the crowd refused to retreat.

“End the military dictatorship,” people yelled. Some threw projectiles at police, witnesses said.

Warning shots were eventually fired into the air, before rubber bullets were fired at protesters.

According to BBC Burmese, who spoke to an unnamed medical officer from a Nay Pyi Taw hospital, one woman suffered a serious head injury and another demonstrator had chest injuries. It is not yet clear how exactly they were wounded.

Reuters news agency spoke with a doctor who said X-rays indicated live ammunition had been used against the woman.

AFP also quoted an emergency room doctor who believed the military was using live rounds, citing injuries to a 23-year-old man and a 19-year-old.

“We believe they are actual bullets because of the wounds and their injuries,” the doctor said.

On social media, footage and photographs were widely circulated which purported to show the critically injured woman being shot. The footage showed a woman in a motorbike helmet collapsing. Pictures showed what appeared to be a blood-stained helmet. The BBC has not verified this.

The United Nations has voiced “strong concern” over Tuesday’s bloodshed.

“The use of disproportionate force against demonstrators is unacceptable,” said Ola Almgren, the UN resident co-ordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

There have also been numerous unconfirmed reports and videos showing police officers crossing over to join protesters. In some areas, police also reportedly allowed demonstrators through their barricades.

Previous protests against the country’s decades-long military rule, in 1988 and 2007, saw demonstrators killed.

What’s the background to all this?

The military seized control on 1 February following a general election which Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud.

The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims.

The coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open.

Ms Suu Kyi is under house arrest and has been charged with possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies. Many other NLD officials have also been detained.

Power has been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

He has long wielded significant political influence, successfully maintaining the power of the Tatmadaw – Myanmar’s military – even as the country transitioned towards democracy.

In his first public comments after the coup, Gen Hlaing sought to justify the takeover, saying the military was on the side of the people and would form a “true and disciplined democracy”.

The military says it will hold a “free and fair” election once the state of emergency is over.

 

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