A key aide of Myanmar’s democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been arrested on Friday, days after Myanmar’s coup. The Military coup has sparked outrage and calls by US President Joe Biden for the generals to relinquish power.
The arrest of Win Htein follows that of Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar President Win Myint. They both were detained on Monday as the military seized the country and announced a state of emergency for one year. Military coup granted army chief Min Aung Hlaing control of the country. Aung San Suu Kyi is facing two years in jail.
Monday’s coup ended Myanmar’s 10 years of nascent democracy after decades of junta rule.
On Friday about 50 students in the southern Myanmar city of Dawei marched against the coup. Around lunchtime, 300 students demonstrated at Dagon University on the outskirts of Yangon, according to one activist. In one protest, demonstrators could be heard shouting: “Democracy is our right” and “We don’t need the military junta.”
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) said through a verified Facebook page that party stalwart Win Htein had left Naypyidaw on Thursday afternoon, and gone to Yangon.
Party press officer Kyi Toe said, “He was arrested from his daughter’s house where he was staying at midnight [in Yangon],”, adding he was being held in a Naypyidaw police station.
The 79-year-old has spent long stretches of time in detention for campaigning against military rule.
He is considered as Aung San Suu Kyi’s right-hand man. He has long been sought out by international and domestic media for insights into what Myanmar’s de facto leader is thinking.
Ahead of his arrest, he had told local English-language media that the military coup was “not wise”, and that its leaders “have taken the country in the wrong direction”.
“Everyone in the country should oppose as much as they can the actions they are seeking to take us back to zero by destroying our government,” he told Frontier Myanmar in the coup’s aftermath.
Aung San Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since Monday.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Yangon-based group that monitors political arrests in Myanmar, more than 130 officials and lawmakers have been detained in relation to the coup.
Telecoms providers in the country have also been ordered to block Facebook, the main means of accessing the internet and communicating for millions of people in Myanmar.
The coup has drawn condemnation globally and on Thursday, US president Joe Biden reiterated his call for the generals to reverse course.
“The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized, release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions in telecommunications, and refrain from violence,” Biden said.
He spoke hours after his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the White House was “looking at specific targeted sanctions both on individuals and on entities controlled by the military that enrich the military”. He did not give further details.
So far, no large-scale protests have emerged on the streets of Myanmar, though small pockets of dissent have popped up, with medical doctors choosing to wear red ribbons – NLD’s colors.