Wanted lists published in Myanmar as junta extends crackdown

Celebrities targeted over support for anti-coup protesters

Wanted lists featuring the names and photographs of dozens of prominent figures, from actors to musicians, have been published in Myanmar’s military-controlled media, as the junta escalates its threats against anyone voicing support for anti-coup protesters.

The military has killed 570 people, including at least 43 children, and detained 2,728 since it ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and seized power on 1 February. A domestic advocacy group that tracks detentions has been unable to confirm the whereabouts of the vast majority of people taken by the military.

On Sunday and Monday, the state newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar printed lists of people it said would be charged under section 505A of the penal code, which criminalises comments that “cause fear” or spread “false news”. Those accused under the law can face up to three years in prison.

State media accused those named of promoting the civil disobedience movement, a peaceful protest campaign through which huge numbers of people have refused to go to work. The movement aims to bring down the junta by paralysing the country, and has already brought banks, customs and transport to a near standstill.

The military has sought to crackdown on anyone organising or publicly supporting the movement, and in February it charged several actors and directors. There are now at least 60 people on wanted lists, after new names were published over recent days, along with their photographs, links to their social media accounts and home town or city.

In a video posted on social media, Myat Noe Aye, an actress, wrote that she was among those who had been targeted with an arrest warrant. “I thought I might be really afraid when it comes to my turn but actually I’m more proud of myself for doing the right thing for my country,” she said. She expected more names would be announced, she added.

“No matter how they haunt us, we’ll keep fighting for justice and democracy. Please know our struggles and save our country. We must win,” she said before raising her hand in a three finger salute, a gesture used by protesters to show defiance against the military.

No matter how they haunt us, we will keep fighting for JUSTICE & DEMOCRACY!
Dictatorship Must Fail #WhatsHappeninglnMyanmar #Apr5Coup pic.twitter.com/gj7TuZ4UvV

— Myat Noe Aye (@myatnoeaye_) April 5, 2021

A leaked letter shared by local media, apparently from the information ministry but that the Guardian was unable to verify, warned broadcasters they would face prosecution if they published any work produced by the named celebrities.

Despite the military’s ongoing, bloody crackdown, small street protests continued on Tuesday. In Hlaing and South Okkala townships in the main city of Yangon, demonstrators sprayed the streets with red paint, as part of a “blood strike” to protest against the killing of hundreds of people by the military, while crowds also marched on the streets of Mandalay.

Elsewhere, in Pyu, a town in Bago region, protesters carried padauk flowers, a symbol of Thingyan, Myanmar’s new year water festival, according to reports by the independent outlet Myanmar Now.


Rebecca Ratcliffe South-east Asia correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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