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Myanmar Junta Arrests Celebrities, Publishes Wanted Lists in Continuing Crackdown

Patrick Frater
·3 min read

Paing Takhon, a prominent model and actor in Myanmar who has opposed the recent military coup, was arrested on Thursday. He is one of over 100 celebrities being sought by the military junta.

“Some 50 soldiers with eight military trucks,” came to arrest him, his sister Thi Thi Lwin posted on Facebook. “As he’s seriously ill, they arrested him calmly without violence. We do not know where he’s taken.” The arrest is reported to have taken place around 5a.m. local time at a residence in Yangon occupied by Takhon’s mother.

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Military forces deposed the civilian government in Myanmar on Feb. 1 and have accused of state counsellor (government leader) Aung San Suu Kyi with multiple crimes. The military, which never truly relinquished power and designed a constitution that gave it a permanent say in government affairs, said that November’s general election was rigged.

There has been considerable resistance to the military takeover, which in turn has been met with brutal force. There have been over 2,500 arrests and more than 600 protestors have been killed. Many are reported to have been shot in the head by military snipers.

Takhon, who was recently attached to “The Clock: Red Wall,” is reported to have attended several anti-coup rallies. He urged his considerable social media following to resist.

“We strongly condemn military coup. We demand immediate release of state counseller [sic] Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, civilian government ministers and elected members of perliment [sic],” Takhon said in an online posting that has since been removed. “We demand to respect 2020 election results and form new civillian [sic] government soonest by NLD led perliment [sic]” In another posting on Instagram in February, he said: “Help us stop crime against humanity.”

Media, and especially social media, have been a key battleground since the coup. The mobile internet has frequently been taken offline, while the army has dominated traditional media.

In the past week the military has published lists of actors, musicians and social media influencers who it says must be brought to heel. On Sunday and Monday, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper published a list of 60 celebrities to be charged with violating Section 505(A) of the Penal Code for “spreading news to affect state stability.” They risk up to three years’ imprisonment of tried and found guilty. The army-controlled Myawaddy TV has also screened wanted lists full of celebrity names.

Kyaw Zwar Minn, Myanmar’s ambassador to former colonial power the U.K., has voiced his opposition to the military takeover. He is reported to have spent Wednesday night in his car in London after being locked out of his embassy by staff still loyal to the military.

“There was a coup in Myanmar in February. Now there is the same situation in central London,” he said, according to BBC reports.

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