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Myanmar A Day After Military Coup: International Airport Shut, MPs Held, Citizens Get Offline App

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the opening session of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the opening session of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

Reports suggest 400 lawmakers of the country, including Aung San Suu Kyi, are still under arrest.

A day after the military staged a coup, Myanmar lawmakers continue to be under arrest as the incident has drawn criticism from around the world.

The incident came 10 years after Myanmar got democratic rule. Before that, the country had been under 50 long years of military rule. Monday morning was supposed to be the first session of Parliament in the country after the Aug Saan Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) came back to power in elections in November 2020.

It was the NLD that had won earlier elections in 2015 as well, that brought back democratic rule to the country.

A day after  members of Parliament of the country were taken into custody by the military, here's a look at what's happening there:

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Lawmakers still under arrest

While the military held hundreds of lawmakers, they are still being held in what Al-Jazeera reported as an "open-air detention centre."

Associated Press reported that the lawmakers were confined to their government housing complex and guarded by soldiers. One of the detained lawmakers told the news agency that he and about 400 others spent a sleepless night, worried they might be taken away, but were otherwise "OK". They were able to speak with one another inside the compound and communicate to the outside by phone, but were not allowed to leave the housing complex in Naypyitaw, the capital. He said Suu Kyi was not being held with them.

“We had to stay awake and be alert,” the lawmaker told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity out of concern for his safety. He said police were inside the complex, where members of Suu Kyi’s party and various smaller parties were being held, and soldiers were outside it.

Also read: Woman Does Aerobics as Myanmar Coup Unfolds Behind, Goes Viral For 'Revolutionary Workout'

Suu Kyi's party calls for her release

BBC reported that Suu Kyi's party NLD said that they wanted her to be released right away and called on the military to accept the results of the November 2020 elections.

The coup comes after the opposition party, which is backed by the military, had claimed that the the elections were rigged.

On Monday, it was announced on the military-owned Myawaddy TV that Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing would be in charge of the country for one year. Later in the day, his office announced a new Cabinet composed of current and former generals and former advisers to a previous government headed by former Gen. Thein Sein.

Citizens download offline app

Meanwhile, even as television signals, phone and internet access was cut off across the country's capital Naypyitaw, reports said phone services in other parts of the country was also down.

Reuters reported offline messaging app Bridgefy as saying it was downloaded more than 600,000 times in a few hours in Myanmar, after the country’s military seized power on Monday and temporarily disrupted internet traffic.

The Mexico-based startup, which gained popularity during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in 2020, tweeted that it hoped people in Myanmar would find its app “useful during tough times.”

Yangon Airport Shut

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the coup, Reuters reported that Myanmar has closed its international airport in Yangon, its main gateway.

Yangon airport manager Phone Myint told Reuters the airport had closed until May but gave no exact date. The Myanmar Times newspaper reported permission to land and take off had been revoked for all flights, including relief flights, until 23:59 of May 31.

India alerts citizens in Myanmar

The Indian embassy in Yangon asked citizens to take due precautions and avoid unnecessary travel, in an advisory issued following the military coup and subsequent political developments in the country. "In view of the recent developments in Myanmar, all Indian citizens are required to take due precautions and avoid unnecessary travel," the embassy said.

Biden threatens sanctions

US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, threatened new sanctions on Myanmar. He said, "The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” Biden said in a statement. “The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action. The United States will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack.”

first published:February 02, 2021, 18:58 IST