Myanmar’s military holding lawmakers in ‘open-air prison’ after coup

Hundreds of lawmakers in Myanmar are being held in “an open-air detention center” in the country’s capital, Naypyidaw, a day after the military staged a coup and detained de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi as well as some of her party members.

According to media reports on Tuesday, some 400 other parliament members had remained inside their government housing complex and were not allowed to leave the compound in Naypyidaw.

Some lawmakers said police were inside the complex and soldiers were outside it. Military trucks had reportedly blocked the exits of the compound where legislators live during House sessions.

Sources said that the parliamentarians, made up of members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and various smaller parties, spent a sleepless night worried that they might be taken away.

A female lawmaker said she was “very worried” and described the compound as “an open-air detention center.”

“We had to stay awake and be alert,” media outlets quoted another legislator as saying.

The whereabouts of Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and the others who have been detained remained unknown 24 hours after their arrest.

The NLD condemned the coup in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

“We see this as a stain on the history of the State and the Tatmadaw,” the party said, referring to the military by its local name.

The coup took place as legislators from across the country were due to attend the opening of the new parliamentary session.

All passenger flights in Myanmar have also been suspended following the coup. 

According to the government agency in charge of air travel in the country, Myanmar has shut down all its airports.

The road to the international airport in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, was shut down on Monday.

Following the coup, the military handed power to General Min Aung Hlaing and imposed a state of emergency for a year.

The office of the commander-in-chief has now announced the names of new cabinet ministers. The 11-member cabinet is composed of military generals and former advisers to a previous government headed by former General Thein Sein.

The military has accused Suu Kyi’s NLD party of massive voter fraud in the November 2020 elections, which gave it a landslide victory.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has said it will hold an emergency meeting on the coup, probably on Tuesday.

Suu Kyi, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her resistance against the military and was held under house arrest for 15 years, faces international scrutiny for her support later for a military crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim people in the western state of Rakhine.

She defended the military atrocities against the Rohingya people at the UN’s top court in The Hague in December 2019.

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