World news

Myanmar junta amends law for more power on detentions, spying

(Bloomberg News) Myanmar’s military amended an existing law on privacy and security rights, giving it more power to detain people for longer and tap their communications.

The junta, led by Min Aung Hlaing, signed a law that would allow it to make arrests or search private premises without warrants, according to the office of the commander-in-chief of defence services.

It can also intercept communications and obtain personal information from telephone companies, or open private letters and packages.

The amendments will remain in effect only during the reign of the State Administration Council, a body that was formed to govern Myanmar following the military takeover earlier this month.

On Feb 1, the military — known as the Tatmadaw — detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders, declared a state of emergency for a year and voided her party’s landslide November election victory. Suu Kyi urged the country’s 55 million people to oppose the army’s move, calling it “an attempt to bring the nation back under the military dictatorship.”

Thousands are on the streets for a ninth straight day to protest the coup despite the risk of violence from security forces. The junta has stepped up its crackdown on civil servants, lawyers, and other professionals.

The junta late Saturday issued arrest warrants for seven activists including 1988 uprising leader Min Ko Naing and members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.

Activists said the amendments on Saturday are a sign of tougher crackdowns to come.

“Anyone’s right can be violated any time,” said Maung Saung Kha, executive director of Athan, a Yangon-based freedom of expression advocacy group. “Anyone can be arrested anytime. No one feels safe at this point.”


Top: Police arrest a protester during a demonstration against the military coup in Mawlamyine in Mon State on Saturday. Photo: AFP


Leave a Reply