The Myanmar military issued arrest warrants on Thursday for 23 anti-regime activists accused of inciting civil servants to join the civil disobedience movement (CDM), as the regime stepped up its crackdown against the nationwide demonstrations protesting the Feb. 1 coup that overthrew Myanmar’s civilian government.
Those targeted for arrest include activists from student unions, trade unions and five members of three different political parties.
They face charges under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code for inciting civil servants and people from the private sector to join the CDM. If found guilty, the activists face up to three years imprisonment, according to the regime’s amendment to the provision after the coup.
The charges relate to an anti-coup protest held in Yangon’s Tamwe Township on March 3. Security forces arrested 389 protestors during the demonstration, including five student union members, but the 23 protestors charged Thursday have gone into hiding.
They include Ko Moe Thway (Generation Wave), Ko Thet Swe Win (Future Nation Alliances), Ko Phoe Saung of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Ko Phoe Kyaw from the Arakan League for Democracy and three members of the Democratic Party for a New Society, including activist Ma Ei Thinzar Maung.
The arrest warrants were announced in a state-owned newspaper on Thursday and indicate the regime’s fear of the growing momentum of the CDM.
Protests and strikes against the coup have seen hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets daily across Myanmar and have paralyzed government services such as transportation, tax collection, healthcare and much of the running of the government.
The civil disobedience movement was launched by hundreds of doctors and nurses from government hospitals in Yangon and Mandalay on Feb. 3. It has now spread across the country after tens of thousands of government staff and workers from essential private business sectors joined the movement.
Security forces have intensified their crackdown on the anti-regime protests in recent days by using live bullets, rubber bullets, teargas, slingshots and air-guns firing lead pellets, as well as targeting the CDM.
Over 60 protesters, including two members of the NLD, have been killed by the police and soldiers since the Feb. 1 coup, while more than 2,000 people have been detained – or charged – by the regime. 1,689 people remain in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Around 800 Myanma Railway staff who had gone on strike in support of the CDM were reportedly evicted from their housing near Mahlwagone locomotive shed in Yangon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township on Wednesday.
The Yangon offices of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society and the well-known charity group Free Funeral Service Society were also raided in retaliation for their support for the CDM and the anti-regime protests.
The leaders of those organizations are now in hiding after being sued under Article 505(a) of the penal code.
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