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Official from Suu Kyi's party dies after arrest

March 9, 2021

Party official Zaw Myat Linn died after being detained by security forces overnight, according to former legislator Ba Myo Thein. Residents of a Yangon neighborhood say police raided their homes.

A helmet-wearing protester runs away from a barricade in Yangon
An anti-coup demosntrators sprays a fire extinguisher at a protest in Yangon on Tuesday, March 9Image: REUTERS

An official from deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) died in custody after he was arrested early on Tuesday, media reported.

Ba Myo Thein, a lawmaker of the now dissolved upper house, told the Reuters news agency that the party official, Zaw Myat Linn, was arrested at about 1:30 a.m. (1900 UTC) and had since died.

"He's been participating continuously in the protests," he said. "Now, the relatives are trying to retrieve the body at the Military Hospital."

More than 1,700 people have been detained in Myanmar since the military coup on February 1, including elected leader Suu Kyi and dozens of members of her NLD, an advocacy group reports.

Zaw Myat Linn is the second NLD official to have died in custody in two days. Khin Maung Latt, who had worked as a campaign manager for an NLD legislator elected in 2020, died after he was arrested on Saturday night.

Protesters cornered in Yangon

With the police clampdown continuing, authorities arrested about 50 protesters who had violated a recently implemented night-time curfew. The people arrested had been cornered by security forces in Yangon. 

On Monday, crowds had flocked to the central township in the city to call for Suu Kyi's release in a protest coinciding with International Women's Day. By nightfall, security forces had sealed off a block of streets with about 200 protesters still inside, although most of them managed to escape.

People barricaded in the Yangon neighborhood of San Chaung overnight said security forces had searched their homes room by room for protesters, targeting homes flying the NLD flag. 


'They searched every building'

Loud bangs were heard coming from the area, and witnesses were uncertain over whether the sounds were caused by gunfire or stun grenades. 

The UN had earlier called on the military to allow youth protesters to safely leave the area. 

One resident told AFP that her home, which did not have any protesters hiding inside, had been searched. 

"They searched every building on Kyun Taw road — they destroyed the locks of apartment buildings if they were locked downstairs," she said, adding that she heard dozens were arrested. By dawn, security forces appeared to have retreated, allowing some protesters to escape from the area.

The move to block San Chaung streets prompted embassies in Yangon to urge security forces to free the arrested demonstrators.  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meanwhile called for "maximum restraint," urging the "safe release of all without violence or arrests."

Myanmar recalls British ambassador

Also on Tuesday, Myanmar recalled its British ambassador, a day after he urged the military to release Suu Kyi, state media reported. 

"Since he did not conduct himself in accordance with given responsibilities, an order [was issued] to summon and transfer him back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the MRTV news channel quoted a statement as saying. 

Media crackdown continues

Several media outlets reported being raided by security forces on Tuesday. Online television broadcaster Kamaryut Media reported that its office was raided and two staff members were taken away by plainclothes officers while military vehicles waited outside. 

The office of a second media outlet, Mizzima, was also reportedly targeted the day after the authorities revoked its publishing license. Security forces also raided the office of Myanmar Now in Yangon on Monday before also revoking its publishing license. Several other outlets have also found themselves effectively banned by the authorities.

Reporters Without Borders called the clampdown as "a shocking act of intimidation."

jsi, lc/rt (EFE, Reuters, AFP, AP)