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Myanmar Public Figures Speak with VOA After Military Takes Control

A soldier looks out from the City Hall compound in Yangon on Feb. 1, 2021, as Myanmar's military detained the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country's president in a coup.
A soldier looks out from the City Hall compound in Yangon on Feb. 1, 2021, as Myanmar's military detained the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country's president in a coup.

Hours after Myanmar's army declared a state of emergency Monday, there are still few details about what is going on and why.

Widespread communication shutdowns, a curfew and the existing restrictions designed to curtail the spread of COVID-19 have restricted access to ordinary Burmese citizens.

Early Monday, an address carried on military-owned television said there was "terrible fraud in the voter list during the democratic general election which runs contrary to ensuring a stable democracy." The statement said the alleged fraud in the November vote led to protests and other actions damaging to national security, and so officials are declaring a nationwide, year-long state of emergency, "In order to perform scrutiny of the voter lists and to take action."

VOA Burmese spoke with some lawmakers and other citizens despite the challenges. The new military government was asked for comments in addition to its official statements. It has not responded, in part because of the communication shutdown.

Zin Mar Aung
NLD lawmaker, women's rights civil society and political activist

"This is not a good sign for democracy. We want to move forward, and this is not good for national reconciliation and strengthening democracy. It's very frustrating. This is not a good sign for our country and democratic community around the world as our country is actively trying to engage with the world and rebuild the nation. So the situation requires close attention. We are also monitoring compromises of our leadership and world's leaders. We are now feeling as hostages."

Bo Kyi
Secretary, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

"The public is shocked, this is bad news for a majority of the people, whereas good news and happy for a handful of people. Our country's fate is heading to the wrong direction. It is outrageous that the military interprets the 2008 Constitution as they wish. Political instability is not significant among the people, only for the specific group. People's desire must be respected, not neglected like this.

Aye Thaung
President, Shwe Lin Pan Industrial Zone in Yangon

"We in the industrial community have concerns that payment for workers this week may have problems as the banks are closed now. Some factories use credit and ATM cards for payments and now that internet connections are slow or banned, they are short on hard currency after having problems with (electronic) payment system.

There was panic buying in the early morning and that caused price hikes of rice and other commodities. So we worry for poor families."

Thet Hnin Aung
General Secretary of Myanmar Industries, Craft & Services Trade Unions Federation

"We have seen some factories' owners are worried and asked their workers to return home following the army's announcement. But they didn't say exactly whether factories will be closed or not. They simply said that operations will be suspended following the announcement of the military coup. We have seen most factories are still up and running."

Kaung Htet
Former VOA Burmese intern, reported the arrest of his mother, Daw Yee Yee Cho, planning and finance minister for the Tanintharyi Region in Myanmar's south. She was arrested with the entire regional cabinet.

"Prominent activists were also arrested. My mother was arrested at home in Myeik at 5:30 in the morning. There are police patrols and military security personnel deployed throughout Myeik."