| 21 May 2024, Tuesday |

Myanmar security forces surround striking rail workers; UN fails to condemn coup

Myanmar security forces surrounded the staff compound of striking railway workers opposed to the military junta on Wednesday as ousted MPs appointed an acting vice president to take over the duties of arrested politicians.

In New York, the UN Security Council failed to agree on a statement that would have deplored the coup in Myanmar, urging restraint by the military and threatened to mull “further measures.”

Diplomats said talks on the statement would likely continue after China, Russia, India and Vietnam all suggested amendments late on Tuesday to a British draft, including removal of the reference to a coup and the threat to consider further action.

The railway staff in Yangon are part of a civil disobedience movement that has paralyzed government business and included strikes at banks, factories and shops since the army ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in a coup on Feb. 1.

Security forces have cracked down with increasing force on daily, nationwide protests, leaving the Southeast Asian nation in turmoil.

At least 60 protesters have been killed and 1,900 people have been detained since the coup, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an advocacy group, has said.

Footage posted on social media showed security forces near the railway staff compound. One person involved in the strike said by telephone they feared an imminent crackdown.

In a Facebook live broadcast from the area people chanted: “Are we staff united? Yes, we are united” and a commentator claimed police were trying to remove barricades and threatening to shoot.

Details could not be independently verified. Police and army officials did not respond to requests for comment.

On Tuesday, Zaw Myat Linn, an official from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), died in custody after he was detained, the second party figure to die in detention in 2 days.

“He’s been participating continuously in the demonstrations,” said Ba Myo Thein, a member of the dissolved upper house of parliament. The cause of death was not clear.

In a Facebook live broadcast before he was arrested, Zaw Myat Linn called on people to continue fighting the army, “even if it costs our lives”.

  • Reuters