Police in Myanmar arrested hundreds of protesters on Saturday in their most extensive crackdown yet on demonstrations against the Feb 1 military coup, a rights group said.
“We can definitely say hundreds,” Aung Myo Kyaw, a spokesman for the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), told Reuters.
“More than 10 prison buses went into Insein prison (in Yangon) with about 40 to 50 people in a prison bus. They arrested many people in Monywa too. We are now trying to get the names of the people.”
The development came as the National League for Democracy (NLD) party announced plans to form an “interim government” to rival the junta and to seek official recognition from the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations.
Sa Sa, an official of the former governing party who has been appointed as the envoy of the disbanded parliament to the UN, outlined the plans in a video interview with the Financial Times.
He accused other Southeast Asian countries of “not standing with the people in Myanmar” after Thai and Indonesian officials this week met the junta-appointed foreign minister in Bangkok.
Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN — appointed by the civilian government — broke ranks on Friday and made an emotional appeal to the international community for “the strongest possible action … to restore democracy” to the country where the army seized power on Feb 1.
Kyaw Moe Tun also pleaded with his “brothers and sisters” in Burmese to keep fighting.
“This revolution must win,” he said, flashing the three-finger salute that has become a symbol of resistance against the junta.
He was fired hours later, Myanmar state TV announced late Saturday.
Tensions have been mounting in Myanmar as large daily protests show no signs of abating and authorities increase the use of force, while uncertainty remains over the whereabouts of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
She was moved from her home in Nay Pyi Taw last Saturday to an undisclosed location, a local news outlet reported on Friday, citing sources within the NLD.
The military had been keeping Aung San Suu Kyi at her home since it detained her and other top government figures as part of its coup.
Protests against the military regime continued on Saturday throughout the country, with police using rubber bullets to disperse a demonstration at the Myaynigone junction in Yangon, the site of an hours-long standoff the day before.
Authorities have ramped up the use of force to suppress dissent, deploying tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse some protests. Live rounds have been used in isolated cases.
In Monywa in central Myanmar, several demonstrators were reportedly injured in a clash with authorities. But earlier reports that a woman had been shot dead were later corrected to say that she had been injured.
The woman was said to have been shot by security forces who were dispatched to disband demonstrators and repeatedly discharged a water cannon.
The rally had barely started before police and soldiers moved in on demonstrators, a medic with a local emergency rescue team told AFP.
The local media outlet Monywa Gazette said on its official Facebook page that its CEO, Kyaw Kyaw Win, was beaten and arrested by plainclothes police while he was broadcasting a live video.
A similar arrest took place in eastern Chin state, where the CEO of the Hakha Times, Pu Lalawmpuia was arrested while broadcasting online.
“When we called the police, we were told to discuss it tomorrow,” chief editor Salai KB Thawng told AFP, adding that five other protesters were also nabbed.
At least four protesters have been shot dead by security forces in incidents in Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay during demonstrations in the past three weeks. One police officer is also reported to have died in a clash.