“Pull back to shoot,” he said.

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Will Japan Confront China? A Visit to Washington May Offer a Clue.

TOKYO — As he visits Washington this week, it would seem as if Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan could take a victory lap.

Mr. Suga is the first foreign leader to be invited to the White House by President Biden, who has vowed to reinvigorate alliances. Japan already had the distinction last month of being the first international destination for the new U.S. secretaries of state and defense. And Mr. Suga will not have to contend with threats of higher tariffs or the need for constant flattery that drove Mr. Biden’s mercurial predecessor.

But even as relations between the two countries are calming, Japan faces a perilous moment, with the United States prodding it to more squarely address the most glaring threat to stability in Asia: China.

It is the latest step in an age-old dance between the two countries. Ever since the United States forged an alliance with Japan during its postwar occupation, Tokyo has sought reassurance of protection by Washington, while Washington has nudged Tokyo to do more to secure its own defense.

Jennifer Lind, an associate professor of government at Dartmouth College and a specialist in East Asian international security.

“The U.S.-Japan alliance is at a crossroads,” Ms. Lind said. “The alliance has to decide how do we want to respond to the growing threat from China and to the Chinese agenda for international order.”

Analysts and former officials said it was time for Japan to expand its thinking about what a summit with its most important ally could accomplish.

repeatedly ignored diplomatic or legal efforts to contain its aggressive actions in both the South China and East China Seas, some say Japan needs to be more specific about what it might do in the event of a military conflict.

“Who doesn’t want freedom and openness?” said Jeffrey Hornung, an analyst at the RAND Corporation. “By signing up for those things, you subtly take a jab at China. But what are you going to do when those things you say you’re going to defend come under attack?”

Japanese leaders usually use summits with American presidents to seek assurances that the United States, which has about 50,000 troops stationed in Japan, would defend the country’s right to control the uninhabited Senkaku Islands. Over the past year, China, which also claims the islands, has sent boats into or near Japan’s territorial waters around the islands with increasing frequency.

Taiwan Strait, where China has been dispatching warplanes to menace the democratic island, which Beijing considers a rogue territory. When Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken visited Tokyo last month, they and their Japanese counterparts issued a statement stressing “the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

statement in which the Japanese leader said that “the maintenance of peace and security in the Taiwan area was also important for peace and security of Japan.”

The gritty details of how Japan might support the United States and Taiwan in the case of an invasion by Beijing are probably beyond the scope of this week’s talks. While Mr. Biden is unlikely to make any blunt demands that Japan pay more for its defense, as President Donald J. Trump did, the current president could amplify recent signals from his administration about efforts to deter China. One possibility is that Japan could be asked to host long-range missiles, a proposal that would probably face significant domestic opposition.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Suga are expected to discuss not just China’s military actions, but also its human rights record, as well as the coup in Myanmar — likely areas of difference between the leaders.

The Biden administration has called China’s repression of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region a genocide and imposed sanctions on Chinese officials. It has also placed sanctions on military generals in Myanmar. But Japan tends to be more circumspect in addressing human rights or taking direct actions such as economic sanctions.

Tobias Harris, an expert on Japanese politics at Teneo Intelligence in Washington, said the Suga administration addressed human rights only “rhetorically.”

fear of backlash, and an understanding that Beijing can turn off the spigot at any time.

Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Tokyo, noted that at the outset of the pandemic, China designated certain medicines and surgical masks as “strategic goods” and stopped shipping them to Japan. “We can no longer rely on the free flow of goods from China,” Mr. Watanabe said.

Some Japanese officials say Mr. Suga should not rush to follow Mr. Biden’s harder line on China and Myanmar. Kunihiko Miyake, a former Japanese diplomat who advises Mr. Suga, said Japan’s approach to such countries is “more dialogue than punishment.”

hosting a climate summit next week. One goal is to persuade Japan to stop its financial support of coal projects abroad, which it has already started to reduce.

decision to host the Olympic Games this summer.

The trip’s success may depend in part on whether Mr. Suga develops a rapport with Mr. Biden. Seasoned watchers of Japan will be closely tracking Mr. Suga, who is not known for his charisma, especially after his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, spent considerable time and effort wooing Mr. Biden’s predecessor.

“We have two older and very traditional politicians in a lot of ways,” said Kristin Vekasi, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine. “I will be curious to see what they do.”

Makiko Inoue contributed reporting.

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Myanmar Coup Puts the Seal on Autocracy’s Rise in Southeast Asia

Late last month, foreign officials in army regalia toasted their hosts in Naypyidaw, the bunkered capital built by Myanmar’s military. Ice clinked in frosted glasses. A lavish spread had been laid out for the foreign dignitaries in honor of Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day.

That very day, the military, which had seized power on Feb. 1, gunned down more than 100 of its own citizens. Far from publicly condemning the brutality, the military representatives from neighboring countries — India, China, Thailand and Vietnam among them — posed grinning with the generals, legitimizing their putsch.

The coup in Myanmar feels like a relic of a Southeast Asian past, when men in uniform roamed a vast dictators’ playground. But it also brings home how a region once celebrated for its transformative “people power” revolutions — against Suharto of Indonesia and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines — has been sliding back into autocracy.

From Cambodia and the Philippines to Malaysia and Thailand, democracy is languishing. Electoral politics and civil liberties have eroded. Obedient judiciaries have hobbled opposition forces. Entire political classes are in exile or in prison. Independent media are being silenced by leaders who want only one voice heard: their own.

alliance of democracies.” With China and Russia involved, the United Nations Security Council has done nothing to punish Myanmar’s generals.

Covid-19 with them.

A scheduled special meeting on Myanmar by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations offers little hope of action. That consensus-driven group avoids delving into members’ internal affairs. Earlier negotiations among regional foreign ministers didn’t result in a single policy that would deter Myanmar’s coup-makers.

Besides, many of the region’s leaders have no wish to uphold democratic ideals. They have used the courts to silence their critics and met protest movements with force.

But if authoritarians are looking out for one another, so, too, are protesters. In Thailand, students have stood up to a government born of a coup, using a three-fingered salute from the “Hunger Games” films to express defiance. The same gesture was adopted after the putsch in Myanmar, the leitmotif of a protest movement millions strong.

its first commoner president, and Malaysia would shunt aside a governing party bloated by decades of graft and patronage. Thailand’s generals had managed to go years without a coup. Even in Vietnam, the Communist leadership was pushing forward with liberalization.

The most significant transformation seemed to be in Myanmar. The military had led the country since a 1962 coup, driving it into penury. In 2015, the generals struck a power-sharing agreement with a civilian leadership fronted by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who spent 15 years under house arrest. President Barack Obama went to Myanmar to sanctify the start of a peaceful political transition.

Now Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is again locked in her villa, facing possible life imprisonment. Her supporters have been arrested and tormented. Soldiers picked up one of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s followers and burned a tattoo of her face off his arm.

Much of the rest of Southeast Asia is in full-fledged democratic retreat. The leader of Thailand’s last coup, Prayuth Chan-ocha, is still the prime minister. His government has charged dozens of student protesters, some in their teens, with obscure crimes that can carry long sentences. Thai dissidents in exile have turned up dead.

After a brief interlude out of government, Malaysia’s old establishment is back in power, including people associated with one of the largest heists of state funds the world has seen in a generation. Vietnam’s crackdown on dissent is in high gear. In Cambodia, Hun Sen, Asia’s longest-ruling leader, has dismantled all opposition and set in place the makings of a family political dynasty.

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines may enjoy enduring popularity, but he has presided over thousands of extrajudicial killings. He has also cozied up to China, presenting it as a more constant friend than the United States, which once colonized the Philippines.

Protesters in Thailand, who gathered by the hundreds of thousands last year, have resumed their rallies, even though most of their young leaders are now in prison.

As the riot police fired rubber bullets near the Grand Palace in Bangkok last month, Thip Tarranitikul said she wanted to erase the military from politics.

army chief, appears to have underestimated the people’s commitment to democratic change. Millions have marched against him. Millions have also joined nationwide strikes meant to stop his government from functioning.

There is little reason to believe the military will back down, given its decades in power. Over the past two months, it has killed more than 700 civilians, according to a monitoring group. Thousands have been arrested, including medics, reporters, a model, a comedian and a beauty blogger.

But the resistance has demographics on its side.

Southeast Asia may be ruled by old men, but more than half its population is under 30. Myanmar’s reforms over the past decade benefited young people who eagerly connected to the world. In Thailand, this same cohort is confronting the old hierarchies of military and monarchy.

Regional defenders of democracy, including the besieged dissidents of nearby Hong Kong, have formed what they call the Milk Tea Alliance online, referring to a shared affinity for the sweet brew. (Twitter recently gave the movement its own emoji.) On encrypted apps, they trade tips for protecting themselves from tear gas and bullets. They have also bonded over the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on young workers, in countries where income inequality is growing wider.

“The youth of Southeast Asia, these young digital natives, they inherently despise authoritarianism because it doesn’t jibe with their democratic lifestyle. They aren’t going to give up fighting back,” said Mr. Thitinan of Chulalongkorn University. “That’s why, as bad as things may seem now, authoritarianism in the region is not a permanent condition.”

In Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, protesters have faced the military’s rifles with a sense of an existential mission.

“I’m not afraid to die,” said Ko Nay Myo Htet, a high school student manning one of the barricades built to defend neighborhoods. “I want a better life for the future generation.”

Muktita Suhartono contributed reporting.

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Myanmar Protests, and Killings, Continue

The Myanmar military’s bloody crackdown on the nationwide resistance to its rule showed no sign of easing on Sunday, with a human rights group reporting that the death toll across the country had passed 700.

The security forces killed 82 people in a single city on Friday, according to the group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been documenting the bloodshed since the military’s Feb. 1 coup. Soldiers used machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to attack an organized group of protesters who had set up barricades to defend part of that city, Bago.

The military appears to be targeting centers of resistance around the country, using overwhelming power against largely untrained, poorly armed protesters. In Tamu, a town near the border with India, members of a local defense group similar to the one in Bago claimed to have killed some members of the security forces on Saturday after coming under attack.

The security forces’ assault in Bago, about 40 miles northeast of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, was one of their most lethal yet. A reputable news outlet, Myanmar Now, also put the death toll in Bago at 82.

must cease immediately” and urged the military to let medical teams treat the wounded.

Members of the local defense organization in Tamu, which calls itself the Tamu Security Group, said that as in Bago, the security forces had attacked its defenses on Saturday with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Members of the security forces were killed in the ensuing clashes, according to two members of the defense group.

Their claims could not be independently confirmed. But killing multiple members of the security forces would be a significant development in the violence since the coup, which has been overwhelmingly one-sided.

A small, little-known rebel group called the Kuki National Army, one of many ethnic armed groups that have been fighting Myanmar’s military for years in regional conflicts, said it had helped the Tamu protesters battle the security forces on Saturday, but the extent of its involvement was unclear. Some leaders of the protest movement have called on rebel armies to join forces.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, called the trial “another example of the junta’s all-out effort to force people off the streets and crush the civil disobedience movement.”

Daw Aye Aye Thwin, whose son, Ko Bo Bo Thu, 27, is one of the two defendants in custody, said he was at home at the time of the killing and had nothing to do with it. She said she had not been able to see him since his arrest and learned of the sentence on Friday, a day after it was handed down.

“Now I feel like my world is gone,” she said. “I just want to appeal to the authorities not to kill my son.”

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Myanmar’s Ambassador to the U.K. Was Locked Out of London Embassy

LONDON — Myanmar’s ambassador to Britain, Kyaw Zwar Minn, was locked out of his own embassy on Wednesday, apparently in retaliation for criticizing the country’s military, which seized power in February and has since launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

In a statement, Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said that it was “seeking further information” following the episode, which drew a small crowd of protesters outside the Myanmar Embassy in London.

“I have been locked out,” the ambassador told the Reuters news agency, calling the actions of diplomatic colleagues who prevented him from entering the building as a “kind of coup in the middle of London.”

Diplomatic sources confirmed that he had been excluded from the embassy and British media reports suggested that the ambassador’s deputy, Chit Win, had taken charge of the building with the help of a military attaché.

no longer represented the country.

On Wednesday, London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed that a protest had taken place outside the Myanmar Embassy and that officers were on the scene to keep order, but said that no arrests had been made.

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Myanmar Envoy Who Critiqued Coup Is Locked Out of London Embassy

LONDON — Myanmar’s ambassador to Britain, Kyaw Zwar Minn, was locked out of his own embassy on Wednesday, apparently in retaliation for criticizing the country’s military, which seized power in February and has since launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

In a statement, Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said that it was a “seeking further information” following the episode, which drew a small crowd of protesters outside the Myanmar Embassy in London.

“I have been locked out,” the ambassador told the Reuters news agency, calling the actions of diplomatic colleagues who prevented him from entering the building as a “kind of coup in the middle of London.”

Diplomatic sources confirmed that he had been excluded from the embassy and British media reports suggested that the ambassador’s deputy, Chit Win, had taken charge of the building with the help of a military attaché.

no longer represented the country.

On Wednesday, London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed that a protest had taken place outside the Myanmar Embassy and that officers were on the scene to keep order, but said that no arrests had been made.

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On Easter, Pope France Urges Universal Access to Coronavirus Vaccines

Pope Francis delivered his annual “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the City and to the World”) Easter message to a small group of the faithful inside St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, while coronavirus pandemic prohibitions kept the usual audience of about 70,000 pilgrims away from St. Peter’s Square for a second year.

The pope delivered the message after presiding over Easter Mass in the presence of about 200 worshipers.

Francis spoke of the economic and social hardships that many people, and especially the poor, are experiencing because of the pandemic, which has worsened recently in Italy and much of Europe. He also addressed the continuing armed conflicts, unrest and increased military spending in Myanmar, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria and other regions and nations.

As he has in the past, the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics called on the international community “in a spirit of global responsibility” to ensure that everyone has access to vaccines, which he called “an essential tool” in the fight against the pandemic. Delivery delays had to be overcome to “facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,” Francis said.

He called on all governments to look after the many people who have lost jobs and experienced economic hardship because of the pandemic, as well as those who lack “adequate social protection.”

“The pandemic has, unfortunately, dramatically increased the number of the poor and the desperation of thousands of people,” he said.

The pope also noted the difficulties of the young, “forced to go long periods without attending school or university or spending time with their friends.” He acknowledged the children who had written meditations for the torchlit Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday, held this year in front of the Basilica instead of the Colosseum, that spoke of loneliness and grief stemming from the pandemic.

“The risen Christ is hope for all who continue to suffer from the pandemic, both the sick and those who have lost a loved one,” Francis said

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Myanmar’s Military Has Killed Over 40 Children Since the Coup. Here’s One Child’s Story.

No one quite knew why the soldiers wandered into Aye Myat Thu’s neighborhood of neat wooden houses, each painted a cheerful hue, sprays of bougainvillea adding more splashes of color.

Mr. Soe Oo took a coconut from the family palm tree and hacked at it carefully, lest the sweet water spill out. Sounds like the pop of firecrackers echoed in the hazy heat.

Aye Myat Thu grabbed her slice of coconut. The popping noises drew her down the path from her house. Past the trees, a camouflaged presence stalked, according to other neighborhood residents. No one in the family saw him.

The hole from the bullet was so small that Mr. Soe Oo said he couldn’t understand how it had extinguished the life of his daughter, another random victim of a trigger-happy military.

“She just fell down,” he said. “And she died.”

The funeral was the next day. Buddhist monks chanted, and mourners gathered around the coffin, raising their hands in the three-fingered salute from “The Hunger Games” that has become the protesters’ symbol of defiance. Garlands of jasmine framed the girl’s face, the bullet still lodged somewhere in her skull.

“I want to tear off the soldier’s skin as revenge,” said U Thein Nyunt, her uncle. “She was just an innocent child with a kind heart. She was our angel.”

Around her body, the family placed some of Aye Myat Thu’s favorite belongings: a set of crayons, a few dolls and a purple rabbit, some Fair and Lovely cream, a Monopoly board and a drawing of Hello Kitty she had sketched two days before she was killed. On the paper, next to the cartoon cat, Aye Myat Thu had written out her name in careful English letters.

“I feel empty,” said Ms. Toe Toe Lwin, her mother.

Right after the funeral, Aye Myat Thu was cremated, the flames burning her treasures with her. In other parts of the country, soldiers have stolen corpses of those they killed, perhaps to conceal the evidence of their brutality. In one case, they exhumed a child’s grave.

The family didn’t want the same for their little girl.

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Myanmar’s Bloodshed Reveals a World That Has Changed, and Hasn’t

Government-sponsored massacres became less frequent too. But a wave in the 1990s were mostly in countries that, like Myanmar, had histories of civil war, weak institutions, high poverty rates and politically powerful militaries — Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others.

Though they largely failing to stop those killings as they happened, world leaders and institutions like the United Nations built systems to encourage democracy and avert future atrocities.

Myanmar, a pariah state that had sealed itself off from the world until reopening in 2011, didn’t much benefit from those efforts.

The country also missed out on a global change in how dictatorship works.

A growing number of countries have shifted toward systems where a strongman rises democratically but then consolidates power. These countries still hold elections and call themselves democracies, but heavily restrict freedoms and political rivals. Think Russia, Turkey or Venezuela.

“Repression in the last couple of years has actually gotten worse in dictatorships,” Dr. Frantz said. But large-scale crackdowns are rarer, she added, in part because “today’s dictators are getting savvier in how they oppress.”

Only 20 years ago, 70 percent of protest movements demanding democracy or systemic change succeeded. But that number has since plummeted to a historic low of 30 percent, according to a study by Erica Chenoweth of Harvard University.

Much of the change, Dr. Chenoweth wrote, came through something called “authoritarian learning.”

New-style dictators were wary of calling in the military, which might turn against them. And mass violence would shatter their democratic pretensions. So they developed practices to frustrate or fracture citizen movements: jailing protest leaders, stirring up nationalism, flooding social media with disinformation.

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Myanmar Soldiers, Aiming to Silence Coup Protests, Target Journalists

Ten days after seizing power in Myanmar, the generals issued their first command to journalists: Stop using the words “coup,” “regime” and “junta” to describe the military’s takeover of the government. Few reporters heeded the Orwellian directive, and the junta embraced a new goal — crushing all free expression.

Since then, the regime has arrested at least 56 journalists, outlawed online news outlets known for hard-edge reporting and crippled communications by cutting off mobile data service. Three photojournalists have been shot and wounded while taking photographs of the anti-coup demonstrations.

With professional journalists under pressure, many young people who came of age during a decade of social media and information sharing in Myanmar have jumped into the fray, calling themselves citizen journalists and risking their lives to help document the military’s brutality. They take photographs and videos with their phones and share them online when they get access. It is a role so common now they are known simply as “CJs.”

“They are targeting professional journalists so our country needs more CJs,” said Ma Thuzar Myat, one of the citizen journalists. “I know I might get killed at some point for taking a video record of what is happening. But I won’t step back.”

the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, stamped out a pro-democracy movement by massacring an estimated 3,000 people. She said she saw it as her duty to help capture evidence of today’s violence even though one soldier had already threatened to kill her if she didn’t stop.

The regime’s apparent goal is to turn back the clock to a time when the military ruled the country, the media was firmly in its grip and only the wealthiest people had access to cellphones and the internet. But the new generation of young people who grew up with the internet say they are not giving up their freedoms without a fight.

Facebook became the dominant online forum. A vibrant media sprouted online and newsstands overflowed with competing papers.

Since the Feb. 1 coup, protests have erupted almost daily — often with young people at the forefront — and a broad-based civil disobedience movement has brought the economy to a virtual halt. In response, soldiers and the police have killed at least 536 people.

At the United Nations on Wednesday, the special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, warned that “a blood bath is imminent.” The regime has arrested thousands, including the country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. On Thursday, one of her lawyers said she had been charged with violating the official secrets act, adding to a list of alleged offenses.

While the military uses state-owned media to spread its propaganda and fire off warnings, attacks on journalists have increased drastically in recent weeks, as have arrests.

hop on his good leg as they lead him away.

Another photojournalist shot that day, U Si Thu, 36, was hit in his left hand as he was holding his camera to his face and photographing soldiers in Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city. He said he believes the soldier who shot him was aiming for his head.

“I had two cameras,” he said, “so it was obvious that I am a photojournalist even though I had no press helmet or vest.”

“I’m sure that the military junta is targeting journalists because they know we are showing the world the reality on the ground and they want to stop us by arresting or killing us,” he added.

Of the 56 journalists arrested, half have been released, according to a group that is tracking arrests. Among those freed were reporters for The Associated Press and the BBC.

But 28 remain in custody, including at least 15 who face prison sentences of up to three years under an unusual law that prohibits the dissemination of information that might induce military officers to disregard or fail in their duties.

Ma Kay Zon Nway, 27, a reporter for Myanmar Now, live streamed her own arrest in late February as she was running from the police in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. Her video shows the police firing in the air as protesters flee. The sound of her labored breathing is audible as the police catch up and take her away.

She is among those who have been charged under the vague and sweeping statute. She has been allowed to meet just once in person with her lawyer.

Mr. Swe Win, the Myanmar Now editor, himself served seven years in prison for protesting in 1998. “All these court proceedings are being done just for the sake of formality,” he said, adding, “We cannot expect any fair treatment.”

With mobile communications blocked, Facebook banned and nightly internet shutdowns, Myanmar’s mainstream media has come to rely on citizen journalists for videos and news tips, said Mr. Myint Kyaw, the former press council secretary.

One of them, Ko Aung Aung Kyaw, 26, was taking videos of the police arresting people in his Yangon neighborhood when an officer spotted him. The officer swore at him, aimed his rifle and fired, Mr. Aung Aung Kyaw’s video shows.

The bullet hit a wall in front of him.

“I know that recording these kinds of things is very risky and I might get shot to death or arrested,” he said. “But I believe I need to keep doing it for the sake of having a record of evidence to punish them.”

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