Accused of crimes against humanity, an illegal government takeover and gunning down protesters, Myanmar’s military is seeking to rebrand itself in foreign capitals, recruiting a former Israeli military intelligence official turned lobbyist with a record defending controversial clients. Ari Ben-Menashe, a Tehran-born, Israeli-Canadian lobbyist, was hired by the Tatmadaw this week to “assist in explaining the real situation in the country”.
Another 38 people have been killed in Myanmar as the military tries to quell demonstrations by pro-democracy campaigners against last month’s coup, the United Nations said. It was the bloodiest day since generals seized power on 1 February, with more than 50 people now dead and many others wounded, according to UN special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener. Children were reportedly among the latest fatalities.
Myanmar police fired on protesters around the country on Sunday in the bloodiest day of weeks of demonstrations against a military coup and at least 18 people were killed, the U.N. human rights office said. Police were out in force early and opened fire in different parts of the biggest city of Yangon after stun grenades, tear gas and shots in the air failed to break up crowds. Soldiers also reinforced police.
Facebook on Thursday said it had banned the Myanmar military from using its platforms with immediate effect, as weeks of mass demonstrations continue in the Southeast Asian country after the military seized power. “Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” Facebook said in a blog post. At least three protesters and one policeman have been killed in violence at rallies.
Protesters have taken to the streets of towns and cities across Myanmar in one of the largest nationwide shows of opposition to the military since it seized power three weeks ago. Crowds assembled in Yangon, Naypyidaw, Mandalay and elsewhere, despite an apparent threat from the junta that it would again use deadly violence against demonstrators.
Myanmar’s military junta guaranteed on Tuesday that it would hold an election and hand over power, denied its ouster of an elected government was a coup or that its leaders were detained, and accused protesters of violence and intimidation. The military has not given a date for a new election but has imposed a state of emergency for one year.
Tensions have risen in Myanmar following mass protests, with security forces opening fire on protesters at a power plant and armored vehicles rolling into major cities. Soldiers were deployed to power plants in the northern state of Kachin on Sunday, leading to a confrontation with demonstrators, some of whom said they believed the army intended to cut off the electricity.
Police in Myanmar have fired gunshots into the air and used water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse crowds as the country’s biggest protests in more than a decade continue. Four straight days of demonstrations have raged on after the 1 February military coup and detention of elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is being held on charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkies.
Massive crowds of protesters have marched in towns and cities across Myanmar in the largest show of popular defiance so far to a military coup a week ago. From the Himalayan town of Putao to cities on the shore of the Andaman Sea, demonstrators filled the streets for a third day of street demonstrations against the ousting of the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar’s army has begun disrupting access to Facebook as it attempts to stamp out signs of dissent, days after it ousted the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Facebook, one of the most popular means of communication in Myanmar, has been used to coordinate a civil disobedience campaign that saw health workers at dozens of hospitals walk out of their jobs on Wednesday to protest against the army’s actions.