Hundreds of Myanmar lawmakers under house arrest

Hundreds of Myanmar lawmakers under house arrest
Armored vehicles block a road leading to the Parliament building on Tuesday. (AP Photo)
YANGON/WASHINGTON, FEB 2 (AP) | Publish Date: 2/2/2021 12:54:01 PM IST

Hundreds of members of Myanmar’s Parliament were under house arrest Tuesday, confined to their government housing complex and guarded by soldiers a day after the military seized power in a coup and detained senior politicians including the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

One of the detained lawmakers said he and about 400 others spent a sleepless night, worried they might be taken away, but were otherwise OK. 

They were able to speak with one another inside the compound and communicate to the outside by phone, but were not allowed to leave the housing complex in Naypyitaw, the capital. He said Suu Kyi was not being held with them.

“We had to stay awake and be alert,” the lawmaker told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

He said police were inside the complex, where members of Suu Kyi’s party and various smaller parties were being held, and soldiers were outside it. 

The coup came the morning lawmakers had gathered in the capital for the opening of a new parliamentary session. 

The military said the seizure was necessary in part because the government had not acted on military’s claims of fraud in November’s elections — in which Suu Kyi’s ruling party won a majority of the parliamentary seats up for grabs — and claimed the takeover was legal under the constitution. But the move was widely condemned abroad.

The coup highlights the extent to which the generals have ultimately maintained control in Myanmar, despite more than a decade of talk about democratic reforms. 

It wasn’t yet clear how Myanmar’s people will react to the seizure. On Tuesday in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, the streets were quieter than usual, but markets were open, street vendors were still cooking food and taxis and buses were still running. There were no outward signs of heavy security — but an unease has set in. People were removing the once ubiquitous red flags of Suu Kyi’s party from their homes and businesses.

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