(AF) The economic fallout from Myanmar’s military coup deepened Saturday as a leading energy firm said it would pull out of the country.
Australia’s Woodside Petroleum said on Saturday it was cutting its presence in Myanmar amid concerns over violence by security forces directed at protesters demonstrating against the February 1 ousting of the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The announcement came as violence on the streets intensified with the killing of a protester by police, according to reports.
“We have watched with growing concern since the events of 1 February 2021. Woodside supports the people of Myanmar and we hope to see a peaceful journey to democracy,” the company said in a statement on its website.
“We are reducing our presence in country and expect full de-mobilisation of our offshore exploration drilling team over the coming weeks.”
Country in Turmoil
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership, alleging fraud in a November election her party won in a landslide.
Uncertainty has grown over Suu Kyi’s whereabouts, as the independent Myanmar Now website on Friday quoted officials of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party as saying she had been moved this week from house arrest to an undisclosed location.
The coup has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to Myanmar’s streets and drawn condemnation from Western countries, with some imposing limited sanctions.
Police were out in force in the main city of Yangon and elsewhere on Saturday, taking up positions at usual protest sites and detaining people as they congregated, witnesses said. Several media workers were detained.
Three domestic media outlets said a woman was shot and killed in the central town of Monwya. Police there were not immediately available for comment.
Earlier, a protester in the town said police had fired water cannon as they surrounded a crowd.
“They used water cannon against peaceful protesters – they shouldn’t treat people like that,” Aye Aye Tint said from the town.
In Yangon, despite the police presence, people came out to chant and sing, then scatter into side streets as police advanced, firing tear gas, setting off stun grenades and firing guns into the air, witnesses said.
‘We Will Prevail!’
At the UN General Assembly, Myanmar’s Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun said he was speaking on behalf of Suu Kyi’s government and appealed for “any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military and to provide safety and security for the people”.
“We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup … and to restore the democracy,” he said.
Kyaw Moe Tun appeared emotional as he read the statement on behalf of a group of elected politicians that he said represented the legitimate government.
Delivering his final words in Burmese, the career diplomat raised the three-finger salute of pro-democracy protesters and announced, “Our cause will prevail.”
• Mark McCord with reporting by Reuters.
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