Crackdown triggers exodus from Myanmar's biggest city

Crackdown triggers exodus from Myanmar’s biggest city


Yangon: Roads out of Myanmar’s biggest city were choked Friday with people fleeing the junta’s deadly crackdown on anti-coup dissent, as authorities in neighbouring Thailand said they were preparing for an influx of refugees.

Since the military expelled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, Myanmar has been in turmoil, triggering a large-scale uprising in which security forces tried to suppress it through violence and fear operations.

According to a local monitoring team, more than 220 people have been confirmed to have been killed and 2,000 detained.

The military government imposed martial law this week on six towns in Yangon, the country’s former capital and commercial center, effectively placing nearly 2 million people under the direct control of military commanders.

On Friday, local media showed that traffic was blocking a major road north of Yangon, reporting people fleeing the city to rural areas.

“I no longer feel safe and secure anymore — some nights I am not able to sleep,” a resident near one of the districts where security forces have killed protesters this week told AFP.

“I am very worried that the worst will happen next because where I live… is very intense, with security forces taking people from the streets.”

“I no longer feel safe and secure anymore — some nights I am not able to sleep.”

The women said she had bought bus tickets for her home state in Myanmar’s west and would leave in a couple days.

A 29-year-old man who works as a goldsmith in Yangon told AFP by phone he had left the city this week because of the continuous crackdowns.

“It was too distressing to stay,” he told AFP. “After arriving here in my home, I feel much more relieved and safe.”

Across the Myanmar border in Thailand’s Tak province, authorities said they were preparing shelters for an influx of potential refugees.

“If many Myanmar people flow across the border because of an urgent case, we have prepared the measures… to receive them,” said provincial governor Pongrat Piromrat.

He said that Laixing Mansion will be able to support about 30,000 to 50,000 people.

Approximately 90,000 refugees from Myanmar have lived on the dense borders, fleeing decades of civil war between military and ethnic armed groups.

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