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Lombok earthquake toll climbs to 347

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PHOTO: VOA News

The death toll from Lombok’s devastating earthquake last Sunday evening rose alarmingly yesterday following the discovery of many bodies buried under rubble in the island’s northern towns. The death toll has now climbed to 347.

Rescue networks report that around 200,000 people live in northern Lombok, a mountainous region away from the more touristy southern and western areas. The government is estimating that 20,000 people are in need of assistance as aid workers struggle to reach those affected by the disaster. An estimated 80% of the area’s buildings have been destroyed.

Relief workers say that the majority of victims are in Kayangan, on the north side of the island. The latest toll also shows that 1,447 people have been injured in the quake and 165,000 displaced from their homes. The latest figures are from the National Disaster Management Agency.

Mataram Search and Relief officials say that they’re still conducting search and rescue efforts in and around the ruins of the building where they believe any remaining survivors will be found.

Lombok earthquake toll climbs to 347 | News by The Thaiger

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Myanmar

UN condemns violence in Myanmar as at least 18 killed in clashes with authorities

Maya Taylor

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UN condemns violence in Myanmar as at least 18 killed in clashes with authorities | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) has called for an immediate end to the use of force in Myanmar, after at least 18 people were killed in violent clashes yesterday. Those opposed to the February 1 military coup have been taking to the streets, with police and military forces opening fire in what was the deadliest day so far.

A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres says he condemned the use of force against protesters, which resulted in at least 30 people being injured and 18 killed.

“He is deeply disturbed by the increase in deaths and serious injuries. The use of lethal force against peaceful protestors and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable.”

The Burmese army claims that the parliamentary elections, in which State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was elected, were fraudulent. She was arrested on February 1, along with several members of her administration. According to media reports, she is due to appear in court today.

The UN Ambassador to Myanmar also condemned the military coup in a General Assembly address in New York and called on the international community to act. He has since been fired.

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani has also condemned the violence, saying the Burmese people have the right to peacefully protest in the name of democracy.

“The people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy. These fundamental rights must be respected by the military and police, not met with violent and bloody repression.”

After clashes between protesters and the military and police, deaths have been reported in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myiek, Bago and Pokokku, with Shamdasani claiming tear gas and stun grenades were used against protesters. She has slammed the use of force and condemned the arrest and detention of activists.

“Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms. Since the beginning of the coup d’état, the police and security forces have targeted an ever-increasing number of opposition voices and demonstrators by arresting political officials, activists, civil society members, journalists, and medical professionals.

“Today alone, police have detained at least 85 medical professionals and students, as well as 7 journalists, who were present at the demonstrations. Over 1,000 individuals have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in the last month – some of whom remain unaccounted for – mostly without any form of due process, simply for exercising their human rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.”

The military coup of February 1 came as Myanmar was edging towards democracy after years of army rule. It has been condemned by countries around the world and brought hundreds of thousands of Burmese onto the streets to demand an end to military rule and the restoration of democracy.

SOURCE: UN News

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Politics

Myanmar’s representative to UN urges strong action against military after increasing violence against protesters

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Myanmar’s representative to UN urges strong action against military after increasing violence against protesters | The Thaiger

A representative to the UN for Myanmar is urging the “strongest action to be used against the military after it has used increasing amounts of violence against anti‐coup protesters. The latest round in violence occurred as riot police violently broke up peaceful protesters, arresting over 100 people in 3 major Myanmar cities.

Kyaw Moe Tun made the appeal to the UN General Assembly in New York asking for the international community to end the junta’s rule in his country, while displaying the 3 finger salute that has been adopted from the Hunger Games as a symbol of resistance from anti‐coup supporters.

“We need… the strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people, and to restore the democracy.”

Former UN ambassador for the US, Samantha Power, also tweeted her support for the movement.

“It’s impossible to overstate the risks that #Myanmar UN ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun just took in the UN General Assembly.”

UN envoy to Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, also agreed saying the use of lethal force against protesters was “unacceptable.”

So far, at least 5 people have been killed since the overthrow, which has seen police open fire on protesters. Thandar Cho, a street food vendor, says she saw police point their guns in a threatening manner towards apartments during the rallies.

“They beat young protesters with rods and cursed them while doing it.”

A Japanese journalist, Yuki Kitazumi, was also allegedly arrested according to a Facebook post by his assistant, Linn Nyan Htun, during the crackdown.

He “was beaten on the head by baton but he was wearing a helmet.”

The military has justified the coup by alleging that the 2020 November democratic elections, which saw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy elected by landslide, were fraudulent.

Suu Kyi was arrested, along with other leaders, and is now facing 2 charges of illegally posessing walkie-talkies in her home and for breaking Covid-19 rules. But her lawyer, Khing Maung Zaw, is concerned as he has still not made contact with her, saying it is dire to get her permission for him to represent her in court.

“It’s very important to get her signed power of attorney before the hearing starts on March 1 because we won’t be allowed to act as her defence counsels if we cannot file (it).”

“Then Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be rid of her right of fair trial without a legal counsel.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Thailand

Indonesian and Thai foreign ministers meet with Myanmar counterpart, seek peace after coup

Caitlin Ashworth

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Indonesian and Thai foreign ministers meet with Myanmar counterpart, seek peace after coup | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To seek a peaceful solution in Myanmar after the country’s military seized power, foreign ministers of Indonesia and Thailand met with the new, military-appointed foreign minister of Myanmar Wunna Maung Lwinat at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport for a brief, 20 minute discussion.

Both the Indonesian and Thai counterparts say they want peace, but the Indonesian foreign minister says Thailand has a “special position” to play because of its proximity to Myanmar and the number of Burmese nationals in Thailand. The Thai-Myanmar land border is 2,400 kilometres long. There are around 2 million Burmese people who live in Thailand.

With the elected civilian government pushed out and many political leaders arrested, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the election for state counsellor in a landslide and also served as the foreign minister, there have been daily protests in Myanmar. A strike on Monday shut a number of businesses. Burmese nationals living in Thailand have even held demonstrations in Bangkok. Some rallied outside the US Embassy in Bangkok, calling on the American government to step in.

The meeting between the 3 foreign ministers was the first overseas visit for a senior Myanmar official since the military coup on February 1. A spokesperson for the Thai Foreign Ministry, Tanee Sangrat, says the ministry insists on peace and stability in Myanmar and hopes to see the situation improve.

“It was also a good opportunity for Thailand to directly listen to Myanmar about issues that Myanmar prioritizes, as well as exchanging opinions on issues important to the people for both countries.”

At a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she asked her Myanmar counterpart to “prioritise the safety and wellbeing” of the people. She says all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations must respect the principles in the ASEAN Charter which outlines principles of democracy as well as protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“This shuttle diplomacy is surely not easy to do during the times of pandemic, but Indonesia has to do it because there are some principles that must be respected…Indonesia chooses not to stay silent…To do nothing is not an option.”

Indonesia has been pushing for a special ASEAN foreign ministerial session to discuss the Myanmar situation. Thai and Indonesian foreign ministers also discussed potentially holding an informal ASEAN meeting in August. The forum has not met in person since the Covid-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: Kyodo News

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