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Western nations warn Myanmar military 'the world is watching'

Myanmar demonstrators flash a three-finger salute as armed soldiers walk before them during an anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar, on Monday. Photo by Lynn Bo Bo/EPA-EFE
Myanmar demonstrators flash a three-finger salute as armed soldiers walk before them during an anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar, on Monday. Photo by Lynn Bo Bo/EPA-EFE

Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Western embassies in Myanmar warned the military against violently cracking down on protesters, who took to the streets for a 10th consecutive day Monday in opposition to the usurpation of their government.

The embassies of the United States, Canada, the European Union, Britain and 10 others published statements late Sunday warning the military "the world is watching."

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"We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government," the embassies said. "We unequivocally condemn the detention and ongoing arrests of political leaders, civil society activists and civil servants as well as the harassment of journalists."

Tom Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, separately warned the Myanmar generals that they will be held accountable for their actions.

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"It's as if the generals have declared war on the people of Myanmar: late night raids; mounting arrests; more rights stripped away; another Internet shutdown; military convoys entering communities," he said. "These are signs of desperation."

The comments were published as the United States Embassy urged Americans in the country to shelter in place until Monday morning as there were indications of "military movement" in the city of Yangon with the possibility of further telecommunications interruptions overnight.

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On Monday, the U.S. embassy's American Citizen Services said protests were continuing "with limited military presence located near large demonstration areas and the central bank in downtown Yangon."

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NetBlocks said Internet connectivity was being restored from 9 a.m. Monday after it reported a near-total shutdown overnight.

The military, known as the Tatmadaw, seized control of the government in a coup on Feb. 1 when it arrested the country's civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Tatmadaw declared a yearlong state of emergency to assume power of the government while citing alleged fraud and irregularities in November's parliamentary elections, in which Suu Kyi's party won in a landslide.

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U Khin Maung Zaw, the attorney for Suu Kyi, told reporters Monday that his client's detention, which was to end that day, was extended until Wednesday, The Irrawaddy reported.

Suu Kyi was charged with having illegal radios days after her arrest and was to be remanded for two weeks.

Protesters have rallied against the coup and the military has responded with increasing degrees of violence, mounting arrests and legislating reforms to suppress dissent, according to human rights groups.

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The Myanmar Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a statement Sunday that at least 400 people have been arrested in relation to the coup, including nearly two dozen chairmen and members of the Union Election Commission from all 14 states and regions.

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The military junta last week also suspended laws protecting the properties of citizens from being searched by the authorities without a warrant and to require citizens to report guests who stay at their homes overnight.

At least one person, a 19-year-old woman identified as Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing, has been shot, according to Amnesty International.

The Britain-based non-governmental organization said the woman was shot in the side of the head during protests on Wednesday.

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