Foreign ministry staff arrested as regime tries to deter civil servants from mass strike 

Authorities in Naypyitaw arrested 11 civil servants including nine from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday as they sought to deter thousands who have gone on strike in the capital to prevent the military from being able to govern the country. 

The group, which also included a parliamentary employee and another from the Ministry of Planning and Finance, was detained at around 4am on Thursday morning and has been held incommunicado since then, their colleagues and family members said. 

“They are out of contact and we do not know where they are being detained,” said a staff member who is in hiding. She added that she was unsure what they would be charged with but suggested it could be with laws against incitement or failing to register overnight guests. 

“They’ve arrested staff to set an example to prevent more staff from participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement,” she added. “First, we were told to ask for leave of absence, but if staff are joining CDM they do not need to ask for leave of absence. I think if staff do not do what they say, they get arrested.”   

About 30 percent of Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff have gone on strike, though some have gone back to work after being threatened, she added. 

A family member of Phyo Phyo Wai, one of those detained, said he has had no contact with his relative since a 4.30am phone call on Thursday informing him of the arrest. 

Government employees from Myanma Railways protest in Yangon on Friday (Myanmar Now)

“If they’re arresting them, they should say officially what they’re arresting them for,” the family member said. “They should say which police station staff are being detained at and which law office staff are being charged under. We don’t know anything, so the whole family is very worried.”

Nwe Tun Oo, a lawyer representing family members of the detained civil servants, said authorities are refusing to disclose their whereabouts or allow them access to legal aid. 

“I do not know where they are detained,” he said.  

Since February 9 over 60 people including civil servants and students have been detained in Naypyitaw. The students have since been released while others have been charged under Section 188 for defying government orders. The law carries a six month prison sentence. 

The civil servant who is in hiding said she would not give up until the movement wins. “Compared to state leaders and these detainees, what we are doing by joining CDM is trivial,” she said. “We will carry on until to the end.”

Related Articles

Back to top button