Security Forces Detain Journalists and Protesters After Attacking Demonstration
By Network Media Group
Monday, February 15, 2021
Five journalists and several protesters detained by police and soldiers during a demonstration in Myitkyina Township on Sunday were released the following morning.
Ko Seng Lat Awng, from Mizzima News, Ko Htoi Awng and Ko Naw Seng, both with 74 News and Ko Yan Kawng and Ko Wai Yan, from Eternally Peace News Network, were released on Monday.
Tens of thousands of people have protested against the military government in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in northern Burma, since February 8.
On Saturday, protesters converged outside the electrical power substation in Yangyi Aung ward, occupied by soldiers and police. Security forces agreed to leave the substation after Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) negotiated a settlement between protesters and police.
The Kachin PCG was also able to convince security forces to leave a substation in Mong Ner village in neighboring Waingmaw Township on Sunday morning. Protesters had gathered there everyday since Friday.
But on Sunday evening, at a electrical power substation in N Jang Dung ward where the arrests happened, it was a different story.
A woman who requested anonymity told NMG that police and soldiers didn’t honor an agreement to leave the substation. She said a rumor was circulating that security forces planned to shut down the electricity grid and arrest people in their homes.
“They’re trying to arrest government staff who joined the civil disobedience movement, and we can’t allow them to do this.”
Since staging a coup two weeks ago, the military took over many of the electrical power stations. They have also occupied other strategic locations in Myitkyina, including government offices and the MPT building.
In the evening, after protesters refused to leave the area around the substation security forces attacked them with water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets. It was live streamed on Facebook.
According to unconfirmed reports, live rounds were also fired. Several people were injured. The Burma Army deployed armored vehicles.
Before the violence happened, Lamai Gum Ja, from Kachin PCG, tried to negotiate a settlement between security forces and protesters.
The substation is owned by Buga Co Ltd, a company owned by the Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/A).
Kachin PCG is peace broker made up of Kachin businessmen that was established to assist with peace negotiations between the KIO/A and Burma Army.