Mobile network data across the country was cut for a second day Wednesday, internet monitoring service Netblocks reported. With little information coming out it is difficult for news organizations, and human rights and advocacy groups to assess and verify the current situation.
Protesters and journalists have relied on their mobile phones to live stream demonstrations and document police crackdowns, and the military’s suppression of information has increased fears it could lead to more human rights abuses, killings and arbitrary arrests.
“With the internet shut down, the people inside areas sealed off by the military and police have no access to the outside world,” said John Quinley, senior human rights specialist at the rights group Fortify Rights. “The junta is trying to stop any information about the violence they are committing from getting out. The junta is trying to create a total blackout.”
Security forces were reported to have opened fire in several locations of Yangon just after midnight Wednesday and several injuries were reported. Meanwhile, barricades made by residents in the city were also removed.
More than 200 people have been killed since the coup, according to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). At least 74 people were killed on Sunday alone and 20 more killed on Monday, the group said. Mass funerals for many of the dead were held across Yangon on Tuesday.
Activists have highlighted the particular concern for those in the Yangon district of Hlaingthaya, a poor industrial neighborhood to the northwest of the city that is home to many migrants and factory workers. One of Yangon’s biggest districts and a protest stronghold, it bore the brunt of Sunday’s casualties and several Chinese-owned factories were set ablaze there.
Speaking to Reuters, a labor organizer in Hlaingthaya said, “here is like a war zone, they are shooting everywhere,” and added most residents were too frightened to go outside.
Two doctors told Reuters there were wounded people in need of medical attention in the area, but the army had sealed its entrances.
Matthew Smith, CEO of Fortify Rights, said on Twitter more killings were reported in Hlaingthaya on Tuesday, however, emergency vehicles were unable to access the area due to road blocks.
Martial law under the junta’s regime means the military commander of the Yangon region is given “full administrative and judicial authority” in districts where martial law is declared, local media outlet Myanmar Now reported.
In the past, such trials were usually held behind closed doors, outside of public scrutiny or proper procedure, and a conviction was almost certain.
In state mouthpiece Global New Light of Myanmar Tuesday, Min Aung Hlaing said martial law was imposed after protests “turned into riots and violence.”
“Violent acts emerged in some areas, such as burning public property and factories. So, security forces had to handle the situation very hard. The protesters raided police stations and administrative offices and burned factories,” the report said.
Opposition to Myanmar’s junta continues to spread. On Wednesday, the most powerful religious body in the Buddhist-majority nation said it will end support to the military by stopping all its activities, according to Myanmar Now.
An abbot told the news agency the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (MaHaNa), a government-appointed body of high-ranking Buddhist monks that oversees the country’s monkhood, called on the authorities to end the “violent arrests, torture and killing of unarmed civilians” and to “prevent the looting and destruction of public property.”
It comes as the junta charged the UN Envoy representing Myanmar’s now disbanded parliament with treason, a charge that carries the death penalty.
In response, Dr. Sasa, who is out of the country, said he is “proud to have been charged with treason by the military junta,” in a statement posted on his Twitter account Tuesday.
“It is these generals that have committed acts of treason every day. Taking what they want for themselves, denying the people their rights, and oppressing those that stand in their way,” he said.
The impact of the coup and civil disobedience movement, which has disrupted parts of the country’s economy, is starting to sting. On Tuesday, the UN World Food Programme said rising food and fuel prices are undermining the ability of the poorest in the country to feed themselves and their families.
“These rising food and fuel prices are compounded by the near paralysis of the banking sector, slowdowns in remittances, and widespread limits on cash availability,” the WFP said.
CNN’s Angus Watson and Akanksha Sharma contributed reporting.