Many Myanmar Govt Ministers, NLD Leaders Still Detained After Coup

By The Irrawaddy 2 February 2021

YANGON—Around 100 government ministers at both the Union and state/regional levels, leading members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and political activists were arrested on Monday morning during the military coup. Many were still being held in military custody as of Tuesday evening.

Some detained chief ministers from the NLD have been taken from where they were being held back to their government houses and put under house arrest.

Meanwhile, in Naypyitaw, newly elected and re-elected lawmakers from both the NLD and ethnic political parties who were preparing to attend the first session of the new national Parliament when the coup occurred on Monday were still being confined at the municipal guesthouse. MPs reported that they were told to leave Naypyitaw by the military on Tuesday evening. But the representatives said they will wait for the parties’ decisions.

Karen State Chief Minister Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint told The Irrawaddy that the military had taken her from a detention facility back to the chief minister’s house at around 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Now under house arrest, she said she wanted to move from the chief minister’s house, which is guarded by security officers, but the military wouldn’t allow her to leave.

Among other chief ministers who were taken back to the government houses are Mandalay Region Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, Magway Region Chief Minister Dr. Aung Moe Nyo, Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan, Tanintharyi Region Chief Minister U Myint Maung and Bago Region Chief Minister U Win Thein.

Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint said that when she was in custody, military officers read her the first announcement issued by the Commander-in-Chief’s Office after the coup stating that the military would hold a new election. She was told nothing else.

Regarding the statement’s claim that the November vote was rigged, the chief minister, who is also a member of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee, said she responded to the division commander, “If the vote was ‘rigged’, I dare to compete at any time in public, not in secret vote, but in an open vote.”

“We are only worried for the public. I want to say here what our leader once told me. Once, when I mentioned that [I wanted] to rally the public to take part in street demonstrations, as I was impatient, Ama [Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] said she would never drag her people down to the streets.”

Under successive military regimes, Myanmar experienced bloody crackdowns on protesters against dictatorship.

“I would like to urge people not to take to the streets. We will try one way or another. There are many ways to express our [resistance] peacefully,” Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint added.

Many leading NLD members and state and regional ministers are among those who remain under arrest. Party spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt has not yet been released. The Yangon regional government ministers and parliament speakers also remain in military custody.

Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint also said three of her cabinet ministers—the planning and finance minister, social affairs minister and immigration minister—remained in custody.

Meanwhile, the military has purged the Union cabinet of ministers and deputy ministers of the NLD government and replaced them with a new administration. The expelled ministers were told to leave their government housing within three days.

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