Security forces urged to refrain from violence after opening fire on anti-coup protesters amid reports of an internet shutdown.
Armoured vehicles have rolled into Myanmar cities and internet access has been largely cut off amid fears of a crackdown on anti-coup protesters after nine days of mass demonstrations demanding a return to civilian rule.
In a statement, United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” about the situation in the country “including the increasing use of force and the reported deployment of additional armoured vehicles to major cities.”
Western embassies – from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and 11 other nations – earler released a statement calling on security forces to “refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government”.
“We support the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity. The world is watching,” the statement said.
In the early hours of Monday, internet blockage monitor NetBlocks said “a near-total internet shutdown was in effect in Myanmar as of 1am local time”, confirming a warning by the US embassy in Myanmar over a telecommunication interruption overnight between 1am and 9am.
All four major telecommunications networks were inaccessible, residents told Reuters news agency.
Earlier on Sunday, soldiers were deployed to power plants in the northern state of Kachin, leading to a confrontation with demonstrators, some of who said they believed the army intended to cut off the electricity.
Security forces opened fire to disperse protesters outside one plant in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, footage aired live on Facebook showed, although it was not clear if they were using rubber bullets or live fire.
As evening fell, armoured vehicles appeared in the country’s largest city of Yangon, Myitkyina and Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, live footage aired online by local media showed, the first large-scale roll-out of such vehicles across the country since the February 1 coup.
On Monday, more than a dozen police trucks with four water cannon vehicles were deployed near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, which has been one of the city’s main centres for protest.
The government and army could not be reached for comment.
The US embassy in Myanmar urged American citizens to “shelter in place”, citing reports of the military movements in Yangon, while the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar warned the generals that they would be “held accountable” for any suppression of the civil disobedience campaign.
“It’s as if the generals have declared war on the people of Myanmar,” Tom Andrews wrote on Twitter. “These are signs of desperation. Attention generals: You WILL be held accountable.”