Myanmar coup – Leader Aung San Suu Kyi detained in military raids as army seize streets and shut down internet

MYANMAR'S military has seized power after detaining leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of her governing party in an early morning coup.

All authority has now been given to the top army commander and a one-year state of emergency has been declared, say shock reports from the Southeast Asian nation .

Tensions between the civilian government and generals have been mounting in the wake of an election the army insists was fraudulent.

A spokesman for the governing National League for Democracy (NLD) party, Myo Nyunt, said Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders were "taken" in the early hours.

He said: "I want to tell our people not to respond rashly and I want them to act according to the law."

Nyunt added he is also expecting to be detained as world leaders hit out at those who triggered the takeover.

PM Boris Johnson this morning tweeted:"I condemn the coup and unlawful imprisonment of civilians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar.

"The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released."

The Foreign Office warned about possible disruption to ATMs and advised British nationals to "stay home and stay safe".

Myanmar's army has now declared a state of emergency, according to military-owned TV which cited the coronavirus crisis and the government's failure to postpone November's elections as reasons for the coup.

The report claimed voter lists were "found to have huge discrepancies and the Union Election Commission failed to settle this matter".

It said power has been handed over to the commander in chief of the armed forces General Min Aung Hlaing, while Vice President Myint Swe would be elevated to acting president.

Myint Swe is a former general best known for leading a brutal crackdown on Buddhist monks in 2007. He is a close ally of former junta leader Than Shwe.

Myanmar – also known as Burma – was ruled by the military until democratic reforms began in 2011.

Suu Kyi is the daughter of Myanmar's independence hero, General Aung San who was assassinated just before the country gained independence from British colonial rule in 1948.

She spent years in detention and house arrest between 1989 and 2010 and was once seen as a beacon for human rights, even being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, in recent years, her leadership has been under fire over the treatment of the country's mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.

In 2017 hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh due to an army crackdown sparked by deadly attacks on police stations in Rakhine state.

Suu Kyi was accused of doing nothing to stop rape, murder and possible genocide by refusing to condemn the military or acknowledge accounts of atrocities.

Her political party is now urging Myanmar's people to oppose the coup and any return to military dictatorship.

The National League for Democracy said the military's actions were "unjustified" and went against the constitution and the will of voters.

"The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship," the NLD said in a statement which carried Ms Suu Kyi's name, and which was apparently prepared in advance.

It was not possible to confirm who posted the message as NLD members were not answering phone calls, reported AP.

One NLD politician, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, said Han Thar Myint – a member of the party's central executive committee – was among those detained.

Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, told Sky News that Myanmar residents were reporting that soldiers were on the streets but communications were difficult as communications – including telephone and internet lines in Naypyitaw – appear to be cut.

State-run MRTV television said in a Facebook post that it was unable to broadcast due to technical issues.

"Due to current communication difficulties we'd like to respectfully inform you that the regular programmes of MRTV and Myanmar Radio cannot be broadcast," Myanmar Radio and Television said on a post on its Facebook page.

Maung Swe, who works in the capital Naypyitaw, told VICE World News what he saw.

He said: "It’s very worrying because anything can happen, because there is no law at this moment. So you cannot rely on anything. 

"I saw some military helicopters flying over Parliament around 8 a.m. I am now in Naypyitaw.

"We had no mobile signals since 4.20am Some of my friends said they lost their internet connection and mobile signals at 3am So no internet, no mobile, no call, no text. I believe this is happening in the whole country. "

Soldiers were deployed outside City Hall in Myanmar's main city of Yangon on Monday after the arrest of Suu Kyi.

One witness said that a dozen soldiers were in front of the building that houses the city administration while several military trucks and vans stood nearby.

It comes after Myanmar's military said it remained committed to democracy as concerns grew that they were preparing for a coup.

The new parliament was due to meet on Monday for the first time since the November election when Suu Kyi's party claimed a landslide victory.

But the military says the election was marred by fraud.

Myanmar's election commission has rejected allegations by the military's persistent allegations.

The constitution reserves 25 per cent of seats in parliament for the military and control of three key ministries in Suu Kyi's administration.

Mr Farmaner said: "It doesn't really make sense for the military to be doing this, because they benefited greatly from the reforms made in the past 10 years.

"We're going to have to see whether there's some sort of split within the military or what their motivation is."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has called for the military to "reverse these actions immediately."

And Japan also called on Myanmar to release those arrested adding it had long supported democracy in the nation and demanded it be promptly restored.

"We are concerned about the state of emergency issued in Myanmar, which damages the democratic process, and call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and others who were detained," chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference.

"The Japanese government has long been a strong supporter of the democratic process in Myanmar, and opposes any situation that reverses it," he added.

"Our nation strongly calls on the military to promptly restore democracy."

Responding to news of the coup, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah also called for the release of those detained.

 “The arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, senior officials and other political figures is extremely alarming. Unless those detained can be charged with a recognisable criminal offence under international law, they must be immediately released," she said.

“The Myanmar military must clarify on what legal basis they have been detained. They must also guarantee that the rights of those arrested are fully respected, including against ill-treatment, and that they have access to lawyers of their own choice and to their family.

"They must confirm their whereabouts and grant them access to medical care.

“This is an ominous moment for people in Myanmar and threatens a severe worsening of military repression and impunity.

"The concurrent arrests of prominent political activists and human rights defenders sends a chilling message that the military authorities will not tolerate any dissent amid today’s unfolding events.

“Previous military coups and crackdowns in Myanmar have seen large scale violence and extrajudicial killings by security forces.

"We urge the armed forces to exercise restraint, abide by international human rights and humanitarian law and for law enforcement duties to be fully resumed by the police force at the earliest opportunity."

A group of Western powers including the United States issued a joint statement on Friday warning against "any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections or impede Myanmar's democratic transition".

In a statement on Sunday, the military accused the foreign diplomats of making "unwarranted assumptions".

It added that the military "will do everything possible to adhere to the democratic norms of free and fair elections, as set out by the 2008 Constitution, lasting peace, and inclusive well-being and prosperity for the people of Myanmar."

Tanks were deployed in some streets last week and pro-military demonstrations have taken place in some cities ahead of the first gathering of parliament.

The army said on Tuesday it would "take action" against the election result, and when asked if it was planning a coup, a spokesman declined to rule it out.

Beijing today called for all parties in Myanmar to "resolve their differences".

"China is a friendly neighbour of Myanmar and hopes the various parties in Myanmar will appropriately resolve their differences under the constitutional and legal framework to protect political and social stability," said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing.

Wang said China -which shares a border with Myanmar — was still "furthering our understanding of the situation."

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