11 Killed As Myanmar Security Forces Crackdown On Protesters

This handout photo taken and released by Dawei Watch on March 27, 2021 shows protesters taking part in a demonstration against the military coup in Dawei. Handout / DAWEI WATCH / AFP

 

Myanmar security forces killed at least 11 protesters on Saturday, witnesses said, in a violent crackdown on demonstrations across the country as the military regime staged a major show of force for its annual Armed Forces parade.

The nation has been in turmoil since the generals ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February, triggering a major uprising demanding a return to democracy.

Violent morning crackdowns by security forces thwarted some plans for fresh protests that had been called in various cities to coincide with the parade in the capital Naypyidaw.

As troops carried torches and flags while marching alongside army vehicles, junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing again defended the coup and pledged to yield power after new elections.

But he also issued another threat to the anti-coup movement that has gripped the country since he took charge, warning that acts of “terrorism which can be harmful to state tranquillity and security” were unacceptable.

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“The democracy we desire would be an undisciplined one if they pay no respect to and violate the law,” he said.

Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of local resistance to the Japanese occupation during World War II, usually accompanies a military parade attended by foreign officers and diplomats.

But the junta has struggled to achieve international recognition since taking control of Myanmar and said eight international delegations attended Saturday’s event, including China and Russia.

 

– Death and mayhem –

By noon, violence had erupted around the country as protesters attempted to return to the streets to call for democracy.

A doctor in central Mandalay region’s Wundwin town confirmed the death of two protesters, while in northeast Shan state, police and troops opened fire on a rally by university students, witnesses told AFP.

A rescue worker confirmed at least three had died — corroborating local media reports — but his team was not able to remove the bodies.

“Our rescue members tried to drag them out when they were shot, but there was so much shooting,” he said.

Across commercial hub, Yangon, plumes of smoke rose above the former capital which has emerged as a hotspot for unrest in recent weeks.

An overnight gathering in front of a police station in the city’s south — where demonstrators called for the release of their friends — became violent around midnight, and the shooting only stopped around 4:00 am, said a resident.

At least five died, one of them a 20-year-old boy in her neighbourhood.

“We are going to his funeral today,” she told AFP. “The conditions on the ground are very scary at the moment.”

This handout photo taken and released by Dawei Watch on March 27, 2021 shows protesters holding candles as they take part in a demonstration against the military coup in a village near Dawei.

 

Further north near the notorious Insein prison, a pre-dawn rally — which had protesters wearing bicycle helmets and shielded by sandbag barricades — devolved into chaos when soldiers started shooting.

At least one was killed — a 21-year-old police officer, Chit Lin Thu, who had joined the anti-coup movement.

“He was shot in the head and died at home,” his father Joseph told AFP.

“I am extremely sad for him, but at the same time, I am proud of my son”.

– ‘Enemy of democracy’ –

As the military commemorated Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) — a group of ousted parliamentarians working underground against the junta — condemned the show of might after a bloody seven weeks.

“We should not allow these military generals to celebrate after they killed our brothers and sisters,” said its UN special envoy, who goes by the moniker Dr Sasa.

Speaking during a Facebook live stream of a “Global Virtual Protest” — which brought together the Myanmar diaspora around the world — his speech got 20,000 reactions.

“They are the enemy of democracy,” said Sasa. “We will never surrender until democracy is achieved until federal democracy is built, and until freedom comes to our people.”

Security forces have increasingly cracked down with lethal force on demonstrations against the coup in recent weeks, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and live rounds to break up rallies.

A message broadcast on state television warned young people not to participate in what it called a “violent movement” against the military regime.

“Learn the lesson from those who have brutally died… do not die for nothing,” it said.

Nearly 330 people have died in demonstrations against the coup — including a large number killed by direct headshots from security forces — and more than 3,000 others have been arrested, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

The protest movement has also included widespread strikes by civil servants, which have brought many basic government functions to a halt.

Coming on top of a Covid pandemic that hit Myanmar hard, the events since the coup have also struck the economy. The World Bank has warned the country faces a huge 10 percent slump in GDP in 2021.

AFP

200 Peaceful Protesters Cordoned By Myanmar Security Forces – UN

Protesters hold homemade shields during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 8, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

The United Nations said Monday that Myanmar security forces had cordoned some 200 peaceful protesters in Yangon, voicing concern about their safety and demanding they be allowed to leave.

“We are deeply concerned about the fate of some 200 peaceful protesters — incl. women — who have been cordoned by security forces in Yangon,” the UN rights office said in a tweet, warning that the cordoned protesters “may be at risk of arrest or ill-treatment.”

“We urge the police to immediately allow them to leave safely and without reprisals.”

The comments came after three anti-coup protesters were shot dead Monday as demonstrators across the country sought to paralyse the economy with strike action following a weekend of night raids and arrests.

The country has been in turmoil since a February 1 coup ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and triggered mass protests against the new military junta.

The police and military have responded with an increasingly brutal crackdown on demonstrators, with more than 50 people killed and nearly 1,800 arrested.

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After a full day of protests on Monday, UN rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell said an estimated 200 participants “had been stopped from leaving a four-street area in the Sanchaung area of Yangon.”

“The area is surrounded by a large contingent of military and there were concerns that when the curfew hour comes, the security forces will move in to arrest everyone,” she told AFP in an email.

“The military has announced a ‘night-time census of the area’, and the civil society groups are worried about what may happen.”

The rights office said there were also “fears that the military will go house-to-house arresting those who don’t live there.”

The spokeswoman said there had been reports of demonstrators descending on the area from outside to pressure the military to allow everyone to leave.

At around 10 pm, “police began shooting and making arrests,” she said, adding that “it is unclear if they were arresting trapped protesters or newly-arrived demonstrators.”

AFP

Security Forces Asked To Respect Human Rights During Operations

A file photo of policemen on a stationed patrol van.

 

Security personnel have been reminded to uphold the fundamental human rights of citizens while carrying out their duties in order to deal with the challenges of violent extremism in the country.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, gave the reminder on Friday at a three-day workshop for security personnel in Kaduna State, organised, as part of efforts to curb all forms of human rights abuses and brutality by security agents when carrying out their constitutional duties.

Monguno who was represented by Zakari Maijinyawa, urged the security operatives to always play by the rules of engagement while in the field without violating the rights of citizens.

The training facilitator, Professor Ifeanyi Onyeonoru, as well as the Project Manager, Prevention of Violation and Extremism, Chukwuma Ume, also spoke at the event.

They urged the participants to adapt the manual in their various training institutions, as well as mainstream and institutionalise the PVE Human Rights Sensitive training manual in their training curriculum.

A representative of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Kabir Aliyu, gave an assurance that the agency would provide guidance and expertise, as well as monitor the implementation.

For participants, drawn from the police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Services (DSS), and other paramilitary agencies, the training is timely and will enhance inter-agency collaboration and cordial civil-military relations in the enforcement of law and order.

Over the years, there have been several reported cases of human rights abuses by security agents with perpetrators going scot-free in most cases.

This, among others, led to the launched of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017.

This was done with the notion that the response to violent extremism cannot be defeated by force of arms alone, but through people-centred and community-oriented policies, especially as it relates to respect for human rights.

Since the launching of the Policy Framework, the Office of the NAS has worked with partners to provide capacity building in responding to the threat of terrorism and violent extremism, as required by the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013.

The capacity building training for security personnel on prevention of violent extremism and respect for human rights is in line with Component Two of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, which seeks to strengthen access to justice, rule of law, and human rights.

Organised by the office of the NSA in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the event comes in the aftermath of the recent nationwide protest against police brutality.

It aims to enlighten the security personnel on the role of human rights law and practice in the Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) and focuses on different aspects of human rights such as crime investigation, arrest and detention; and the use of force and firearms in law enforcement of human rights, among others.

Amnesty Report: Shehu Sani Asks Security Forces To Shun ‘Unlawful Arrests’

Amnesty Report: Shehu Sani Asks Security Forces To Shun 'Unlawful Arrests', Others
Senator Shehu Sani (file)

 

The lawmaker representing Kaduna Central district, Senator Shehu Sani, has called on the security agencies to caution their personnel against alleged unlawful arrests of innocent citizens.

He made the call on Sunday while reacting to the latest report by the global rights group, Amnesty International, on happenings in the country, especially as it relates to security.

The organisation had indicted the Nigerian Government and the security forces in its report published on December 17.


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Senator Sani, in a series of tweets, believes Amnesty International will have nothing to report if the security forces respect the rights of the citizens in their operations.

He, therefore, asked them to “respect the rules of engagement, protect civilians, and desist from extrajudicial killings.”

The lawmaker also faulted the call that the operations of the rights organisation be suspended in the country.

He further called on the people of Kaduna, especially those in the southern part of the state to ensure they were not deceived by politicians ahead of the general elections in 2019.

Amnesty International had accused the Federal Government of impunity in the way it has been handling the killings of innocent citizens in parts of the country.

In its reaction, the Presidency faulted the report and accused the organisation of bias and inaccuracies.

Read Senator Sani’s tweets below;

Amnesty Int’l Blames Indonesian Killings On Security Forces

Anti-terror police “Densus 88” conduct a raid in Tangerang following a recent spate of terror attacks in Indonesia. DEMY SANJAYA / AFP

 

Indonesian security forces are behind the unlawful killing of at least 95 people in Papua since 2010, with most perpetrators never held to account, Amnesty International said in a new report on Monday.

Papua, on the western half of New Guinea island, has been the scene of a simmering independence insurgency since it was annexed by Indonesia in the late 1960s.

Political activists and demonstrators peacefully protesting the government were among those killed in recent violence, as well as residents involved in non-political gatherings in Indonesia’s easternmost province, the rights group said.

Not one case has been subject to an independent criminal investigation, according to Amnesty, which said it spent two years interviewing victims’ families, witnesses, rights organisations, political activists and church-based community groups.

“Papua is one of Indonesia’s black holes for human rights. This is a region where security forces have for years been allowed to kill women, men and children, with no prospects of being held to account,” Amnesty Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said in a statement.

“This culture of impunity within the security forces must change, and those responsible for past deaths held to account.”

Muhammad Aidi, the army’s spokesman for Papua province, said the allegations of unlawful killings and excessive force by security forces were inaccurate.

“Anything done by the army or police in Papua — as well as throughout Indonesia — must be legal [and] must follow legal process,” Aidi told AFP.

Amnesty said 39 deaths were linked to peaceful political activities including raising the Morning Star, Papua’s banned flag.

Another 56 killings involved excessive use of force by the army or police and were unrelated to calls for independence.

Some of the violence has been centred on protests against a huge gold and copper mine owned by US-based firm Freeport McMoRan — a frequent flashpoint in the local struggle for independence and a bigger share of the region’s rich resources.

President Joko Widodo promised to improve human rights in Papua after taking office in 2014, but Amnesty says he has not lived up to his pledge.

It urged the Indonesian government to immediately investigate alleged killings and rights violations, as well as review tactics used by security forces.

AFP

Iraq Security Forces Vote In First Poll Since IS War

Iraqi Flag

 

Around one million soldiers, police and other security personnel were voting across Iraq on Thursday in the first national elections since the country declared victory over the Islamic State group. 

Servicemen in uniform queued up to cast their ballots two days before the rest of the country heads to the polls for a parliamentary election Saturday, just five months after the battle against the jihadists drew to a close.

Iraqis are hoping that the vote can lock in a fragile peace, 15 blood-soaked years after the US-led ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein.

But they face the mammoth task of reconstruction, while IS continues to pose a major security threat.

In the war-ravaged former IS stronghold of Mosul, retaken in July after months of street-to-street combat, policeman Renan Khaled said he wanted reconstruction to be the main priority.

“I am voting for the future of my family, so that good people occupy the right positions,” said Khaled, 25, wearing a blue police uniform.

At a school in central Baghdad that had been turned into a polling station, police and presidential guard members waited to make their choice.

Security was tight after IS threats, and voters were frisked several times as they entered to cast their ballots.

Police special forces officer Ahmed Qassem told AFP that he voted for the candidate who “will help the poor and fight corruption”.

“The most important thing is that it is the people who are choosing their representatives and who will become prime minister,” the 38-year-old said.

In the southern city of Basra, police and soldiers filed out of polling stations with indelible ink on their fingers to show they had voted.

Traffic policeman Hassan Mohammed said he wanted “change” and hoped for a “new government that will bring us a better future”.

To the north in the autonomous Kurdish enclave, fighters in the region’s peshmerga security forces — which played a key role in fighting IS — also lined up to vote.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is angling for a new term as he takes credit for the fightback against IS and for seeing off a Kurdish push for independence.

But stiff competition from within his Shiite community, the majority group which dominates Iraqi politics, is likely to fragment the vote and spell lengthy horse-trading before any government is formed.

Overall, 24.5 million voters are registered for the elections, with some of the roughly one million Iraqi voters living abroad also set to cast ballots Thursday.

Polling stations have been set up in 21 countries, according to the electoral commission.

AFP

Police, Shiites Members Clash In Abuja

Security forces and members of the Shiite movement on Monday clashed in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

This was after the protesters stormed the Institute For Peace and Conflict Resolution Abuja, in Abogo Largema a Central business district area in Abuja.

Members of the Shiite movement are demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and lamenting over his continued detention without trial for over two years.

The protest is reported to have started from the Unity Fountain, beside Transcorp hotel.

The Police officers in order to disperse the protesters fired teargas, forcefully dispersing them.

This eventually led to resistance, forcing the protesters to throw stones at the police patrol vehicle.

 

Irate Youths Allegedly Kill Four Shiites In Kaduna

Irate Youths Kill Shiites in KadunaSome Irate youths in Tudun Wada community in Kaduna State have reportedly killed four members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, in southern part of the state.

A member of the group, popularly known as Shiites, told Channels Television that the deceased lost their lives on Wednesday when a group of youths attacked them during a procession to mark their annual Ashura Day.

He also claimed that the angry youths burnt down the residence of one of their leaders and went ahead to demolish their Islamic school and houses in the area.

The incident was said to occur after a clamp down by combined security forces that prevented the Shiites from their planned procession since Tuesday.

Allegation Of Sponsoring Hoodlums

The Shiites also accused the Kaduna State Police Command of sponsoring the hoodlums to attack their peaceful procession and burn down some houses belonging to their members.

One of the leaders of the group, Mukhtar Sahabi, was allegedly killed and his house burnt down by the irate youths.

The police, however, denied the allegation of sponsoring any group to attack the Shiites.

Spokesman for the command, Aliyu Usman, stated that there was no reason the command would sponsor any group to attack members of the movement.

He said police officials were only deployed to the area, following a distress call that some hoodlums attacked a house belonging to one of the leaders of the movement at Tudun Wada area.

The police mouthpiece warned that the command would not tolerate any form of lawlessness by an illegal group or individuals.

He denied knowledge of any killing in the incident.

Usman disclosed further that security operatives had been stationed in the area and other flash points to maintain law and order.

An Illegal Association

Security operatives in the state had earlier stopped a procession by the group.

Shiites-protest

The disruption followed the Kaduna State government’s statement last week, which described the Islamic group as an illegal association and banned it from operating in the state.

After the ban was issued, the group vowed to challenge the ban.

The Shiites, however, ignored the order and proceeded with a procession to commemorate the annual Ashura festival in remembrance of Rhe Matrydon of the grand son of Prophet Mohammed, Imam Hussein.

A member of the movement, told Channels Television that security operatives allegedly attacked the procession with tear gas.

Afghanistan Blast: At Least 28 Killed, 320 Wounded In Kabul

Afghanistan BlastThings got off to a bloody start on Tuesday morning in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where several people have been killed and more than 200 have been injured.

Tuesday’s bombing happened during the morning rush hour in a residential neighbourhood close to the ministry of defence and military compounds.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the incident which occurred when a vehicle was detonated.

There are unverified claims that Taliban fighters managed to breach the defences of the National Directorate of Security, the main spy agency which protects high-ranking government officials.

For now, the scene of the attack has been completely cordoned off by Afghan security forces.

It was the first attack in the Afghan capital since the Islamist militant group declared the start of their spring offensive a week ago.

According to the Kabul police chief said, the death toll from the attack has risen to 28 with more than 320 wounded.

Police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said civilians and members of the Afghan security forces were among the dead and wounded.

Gombe State Declares Curfew After Boko Haram Attack

Abubakar ShekauThe Gombe State Government has imposed a 24-hour curfew in Gombe metropolis area of the state after a fierce attack by member of the Boko Haram in the early hours of Saturday.

The imposition of the curfew was announced by the Secretary to the State  Government, Abubakar Sule Bage, during a press briefing.

Gombe, the state capital, today experienced the first broad daylight attack carried out by suspected Boko Haram militants, who have been launching series of attack on innocent civilians and security forces in the troubled north-east geopolitical region of Nigeria.

Residents told Channels Television that the insurgents have carried out an early morning attack on Hina and Dadin-Kowa communities of Yamaltu-Deba Local Government Area of the state, before extending the attack to Gombe metropolis.

Witnesses also said the quarter guard of the military barracks located in the heart of the town was attacked and burnt by the insurgents after which the attack was repelled by security forces.

It was also revealed to Channels Television that the terrorists group circulated a letter, warning people of the state not to come out for the 2015 general elections.

It was also gathered that an air force fighter jet that was deployed to the troubled area assisted in repelling the attack.

Dadin-Kowa residents also said the insurgents who are within town are chanting war songs and warning residents not to come out for the proposed elections.

The spokesman for the Police in Gombe State, Mr Fwaji Atajiri, confirmed the attack.

He told  Channels Television that the security forces were working towards restoring peace in the troubled Gombe metropolis and environs.

Gombe state is one of the troubled north-east states of Nigeria, with prevailing cases of Boko Haram insurgency with ceaseless cases of attacks around the northern and eastern parts of the state bordering Yobe and Borno States respectively.

Earlier Reports

In earlier reports, Reuters quoted a witness, Abdul Hassan, as saying that soldiers ran away after the checkpoint was overwhelmed. The militants then burned down a police station on the outskirts of town, he said.

“I crossed a river and ran into the hills,” he said. “I’m still there and I can hear the fighting.”

Other residents have been forced to stay indoors, with another witness, Hussaina Maji, saying she was unable to leave her house for fear of being caught in crossfire.

“There are gun shot sounds everywhere and heavy artillery fire. People are running down the streets from the area which under attack, The whole town is in a state of panic,” resident Godfret Obeate told Reuters by telephone.

Security authorities have not confirmed the attack and the number of casualties is unknown.

The Boko Haram sect has continued to attack communities in the north-east region of Nigeria, as it pushes for an Islamic state, posing a grave security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.

Thousands have been killed while hundreds have been kidnapped, with the group increasing its threats in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The countries have formed a Multinational Joint Force to battle the insurgents.

Could Not Guarantee Voters’ Safety

Nigeria’s general elections was last week postponed, with the electoral body citing security operative’s advice and request for a shift to enable them secure towns in the north-east before the elections.

The military had told the Independent National electoral Commission that it could not guarantee the safety of lives and property in the region during elections, demanding for six weeks to degrade the activities of the terrorist group.

On Thursday, the West African Allied Forces led by the Nigerian military, supported by Chad, Niger and Cameroon, stormed the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, killing a good number of insurgents.

A top military source told Channels Television that the air forces bombarded the insurgents, before ground forces moved in and incapacitated the insurgents.

Already the insurgents have been pushed out of Gamboru which lies on the Nigerian border with Cameroon.

Boko Haram attacked a village in Chad on Friday, the first known lethal attack in that country by the sect, which killed several people including a local chief according to residents and security forces.

Buhari Calls For Calm After Election Postponement

buhariThe Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, had called on Nigerians to maintain peace, following the rescheduled date of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“Any act of violence can only complicate the security challenges in the country and provide further justification to those who would want to exploit every situation to frustrate the democratic process,” Buhari said.

Buhari perceived the election postponement to be as a result of pressure from the opposition, saying; “it is important to note that although INEC acted within its constitutional powers, it is clear that it has been boxed into a situation where it had to bow to pressure”.

He also said that the presidential and state level elections on March 28 and April 11 must now be sacrosanct and that the party would not tolerate any further interference in the vote.

“What they (security forces) cannot do in 6 years, they cannot do in 6 weeks,” he emphasised.

Foreign nations are observing proceedings in Nigeria and have raised concerns over possibilities of violence, but the presidential candidates of different political parties have signed a peace accord to be committed to non-violence before, during and after the elections.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was deeply disappointed by the election postponement and criticised “political interference” in the election process. Britain also voiced concerns about the election postponement.

The electoral commission said the decision was taken after wide-reaching consultations, citing the advice of security operatives for a shift in the election date to put adequate security in place in the north-east before the elections.

Members Boko Haram terrorist group  have taken over territories in the north-east in an attempt to establish an Islamic state. Nigeria’s army has been restive, with Chad now sending in troops to assist while Cameroon has been pushing back incursions into its territory.

The poll poll would place incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, of the Peoples Democratic Party against former military ruler Buhari of the (APC) in what is likely to be the most hotly contested election since the end of military rule in 1999.

Earlier on Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan said he was committed to May 29 as the terminal date of his first term in office and also called for calm.

Fighting Terrorism: Lake Chad Basin Commission Says Over N2bn Needed

Lake ChadOver two billion naira is the amount needed to fund operations of the multinational joint security forces organised to fight insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin area.

The Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, Mr Sanusi Abdullahi, told Chiefs of Defence Staff from member states in Abuja that the amount would fund requirements of small equipment and troop welfare in the on-going fight against terrorism.

“The Lake Chad Basin Commission is committed and determined to support the multinational joint task force to see that the force is maintained and sustained at top capacity to face the challenges of its mission.

“In this regard, we are submitting to the council of ministers of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, a budget of 8.714billion CFA to fund urgent requirements of small equipment, troops’ welfare and daily needs,” he said.

Members of the commission and Benin Republic have been meeting in Nigeria’s capital city to re-evaluate counter terrorism strategies adopted in the past.

It was the fourth meeting of ministers and Chiefs of Defense Staff, and heads of security intelligence to review best strategies in the fight against terrorism.

Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, believes that such collaborations from member states is needed to fight terrorism.

He said; “This is the time for affirmative action. It is very important for us to build enduring structures that will have pragmatic value on the Lake Chad Basin Commission community.

“The military structure in terms of the multinational joint task force is one of such structures and has to be fully activated.”