Tag Archives: custody

Myanmar official dies in custody as junta cracks down on media

An official from deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) died in custody after he was arrested early on Tuesday — the second party figure to die in detention in two days — as security forces broke up street protests against the military junta.

Police also cracked down on independent media, raiding the offices of two news outlets and detaining two journalists.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the army ousted Suu Kyi’s elected government in a coup on Feb. 1, detained her and other NLD officials, and set up a ruling junta of generals.

The NLD’s Zaw Myat Linn died in custody on Tuesday after he was arrested in Yangon around 1:30 a.m. local time, said Ba Myo Thein, a member of the dissolved upper house of parliament.

“He’s been participating continuously in the protests,” Ba Myo Thein said. The cause of death was not clear.


A protester gets Coca-Cola poured on his face in an attempt to diminish the effects of tear gas during a demonstration in Yangon. (AFP/Getty Images)

In a Facebook live broadcast before he was detained, Zaw Myat Linn urged people to continue fighting the army, “even if it costs our lives.”

“Their power must never last,” he said.

Neither the military nor the police responded to calls for comment.

Tear gas, stun grenades used to disperse protesters

Zaw Myat Linn is the second NLD official to have died in custody in the last two days. Khin Maung Latt, who had worked as a campaign manager for an NLD MP elected in 2020, died after he was arrested on Saturday night.

More than 1,900 people have been arrested across the country since the coup, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.

Police broke up scattered demonstrations in Yangon — the former capital and still the commercial hub — and other towns across Myanmar with tear gas and stun grenades on Tuesday.


This still image from social media video shows anti-coup demonstrators in Loikaw, Myanmar, fleeing tear gas. (Mizzima Burmese/Reuters)

As night fell, soldiers fired weapons in different districts of the coastal town of Dawei, while at least two people were wounded earlier in the day, one by a gunshot, in the town of Mohnyin in the north, local media said.

Witnesses said two journalists from Kamayut, an independent media company, were arrested, while the military raided the offices of Mizzima News in Yangon.

Live footage posted to social media also showed a raid after nightfall on the offices of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).

A day earlier, the junta stripped Mizzima, DVB, and three other outlets of their licences. They had all been active in covering protests against the coup.

At least 35 journalists have been arrested since the Feb. 1 coup, Myanmar Now reported, of which 19 have been released.

The U.S State Department said it “strongly condemned the junta for the … violent crackdowns on those peacefully taking to the streets and on those who are just doing their jobs, including independent journalists who have been swept up.”

Daily protests against the coup are being staged across the country and security forces have cracked down harshly. More than 60 protesters have been killed and more than 1,800 detained, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an advocacy group, has said.

Ambassador to U.K. recalled

International powers have condemned the takeover, which derailed a slow transition to democracy in a country that has been ruled by the military for long periods since independence from Britain in 1947.

The army has justified the coup by saying that a November election won by the NLD was marred by fraud — a claim rejected by the electoral commission. It has promised a new election, but has not said when that might be held.

The junta said on Tuesday it was recalling its ambassador to the United Kingdom a day after he urged them in a statement to release Suu Kyi, state media reported.


Anti-coup demonstrators in Yangon spray fire extinguishers over a barricade. (Reuters)

The MRTV news channel said Kyaw Swar Min, one of several ambassadors to publicly break from the military line, had released the statement without following orders.

The military has brushed off condemnation of its actions, as it has in past periods of army rule when outbreaks of protest were bloodily repressed.

It is also under pressure from a civil disobedience movement that has crippled government business and from strikes at banks, factories and shops that have shut much of Yangon this week.

The European Union is preparing to widen its sanctions to target army-run businesses, according to diplomats and two internal documents seen by Reuters.

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Hong Kong court orders media publisher Jimmy Lai back into custody

Hong Kong’s top court has remanded media and publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, the most high-profile person to be charged under the Chinese-ruled city’s national security law, in custody until another bail hearing on Feb. 1.

The Court of Final Appeal’s ruling comes a week after Lai, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists who is accused of colluding with foreign forces, was released on $ 1.3 million US bail along with extensive restrictions that included barring him from using social media.

Prosecutors immediately appealed against the bail decision.

Beijing imposed the legislation on the former British colony in June that critics say aims to crush dissent and erode freedoms in the semi-autonomous, Chinese-ruled city — charges that authorities in Hong Kong and China reject.

Lai, a critic of Beijing who had been a frequent visitor to Washington, is widely believed to be a target of the new legislation.

Lai is among a string of pro-democracy activists and supporters arrested by Hong Kong police in recent months as authorities step up their crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. 

On Tuesday, Lai resigned as chairman and executive director of Next Digital, which runs the Apple Daily newspaper, according to a filing made to the Hong Kong stock exchange. He did so “to spend more time dealing with this personal affairs” and confirmed that he had no disagreement with the board of directors, the filing said.
 

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Hong Kong’s Joshua Wong taken into custody after guilty plea

Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and two other activists were taken into custody Monday after they pleaded guilty to charges related to a demonstration outside police headquarters during anti-government protests last year.

Wong, together with fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, pleaded guilty to charges related to organizing, taking part in and inciting protesters to join an unauthorized protest outside police headquarters last June. The trio were members of the now-disbanded Demosisto political party.

They were remanded in custody at a court hearing Monday, and the three are expected to be sentenced on Dec. 2. Those found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly could face as long as five years in prison depending on the severity of the offence.

“I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism,” Wong said, ahead of the court hearing.

“What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world, through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own. I’m prepared for the thin chance of walking free.”

Wong rose to prominence as a student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests and is among a growing number of activists being charged with relatively minor offences since Beijing in June imposed a sweeping national security law on the region that has severely restricted political speech.

‘I will try my best to face it bravely’

Pro-democracy supporters have said the legal charges are part of a campaign to harass and intimidate them.

Lam, who also spoke ahead of the court hearing, said he too was prepared to be jailed.

Wong wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he and Lam had decided to plead guilty after consulting with their lawyers. The two previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.


Supporters of the three activists wave to a Correctional Services Department vehicle outside a court in Hong Kong on Monday. They were taken into custody after they pleaded guilty to charges related to a demonstration outside police headquarters during anti-government protests last year. (Vincent Yu/The Associated Press)

Chow had already pleaded guilty to charges of inciting others and taking part in the protest.

“If I am sentenced to prison this time, it will be the first time in my life that I have been in jail,” Chow wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday.

“Although I am mentally prepared, I still feel a little bit scared. However, compared to many friends, I have suffered very little. When I think of this, I will try my best to face it bravely.”

On June 21 last year, thousands rallied outside the police headquarters to protest what they said was excessive police force against demonstrators.

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1 killed in Minneapolis as protests turn violent over man’s death in police custody

A man was shot to death as violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody rocked Minneapolis for a second straight night Wednesday, with protesters looting stores near a police precinct and setting fires.

Police said they were investigating the death as a homicide and had a suspect in custody, but were still investigating what led to the shooting.

Protesters began gathering in the early afternoon near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city where 46-year-old George Floyd died on Memorial Day after an officer knelt on his neck until he became unresponsive.

News helicopter footage showed protesters milling in streets near the 3rd Precinct station, with some running in and out of nearby stores. A Target, a Cub Foods, a Dollar Tree and an auto parts store all showed signs of damage and looting. As darkness fell, fire erupted in the auto parts store, and city fire crews rushed to control it. Protesters set other fires in the street.

Officers could be seen surrounding the nearby precinct, not attempting to intervene in the looting.


A man poses for a photo in the parking lot of an AutoZone store in flames in Minneapolis Wednesday evening. Earlier, some protesters skirmished with officers, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas in a repeat of Tuesday night’s confrontation. (Carlos Gonzalez/The Associated Press)

Multiple fires burned early Thursday at buildings and smoke hung over the city. Fire crews worked to put out flames. Blocks of buildings with broken windows and other damage from looting were seen, and KSTP-TV reported that some people were seen going through buildings.

Police spokesperson John Elder said officers responding to a reported stabbing near the protests found a man lying on the sidewalk with what turned out to be a bullet wound. The man was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Elder said a suspect was in custody, but said the facts leading up to the shooting were “still being sorted out.”

It was the second night of violent protest since the death of Floyd, whom police were seeking to arrest outside a Minneapolis grocery store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. A bystander’s cellphone video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd ‘s neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive.

The officer and three others were fired Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey called for him to be criminally charged.

Police chief urges calm

Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at the officer’s suburban home, as well as the Minneapolis home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor who would make a charging decision in the case. No violence was reported in those protests.

As the protests stretched into the evening, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo urged calm. In an interview with KMSP-TV, he noted the internal investigation as well as the FBI’s investigation of Floyd’s death and said they offer a chance at justice.


A Target, a Cub Foods, a Dollar Tree and an auto parts store in Minneapolis all showed signs of damage and looting. Above, a man walks out of a Target store with merchandise and a mannequin. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune/The Associated Press)

“Justice historically has never come to fruition through some of the acts we’re seeing tonight, whether it’s the looting, the damage to property or other things,” he said.

Elder said officers from St. Paul, Metro Transit and the state patrol were helping police the area.

In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers on Wednesday.


A police officer lobs a canister to break up crowds of people protesting in Minneapolis on Wednesday night. (Eric Miller/Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter he wanted an FBI investigation “to be expedited,” saying he appreciated “all the work done by local law enforcement.”

“My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!” he tweeted.

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5 stabbed at rabbi’s house on Hanukkah, suspect in custody

A man stabbed and wounded five people as they gathered at a rabbi’s home north of New York City to celebrate Hanukkah, in an attack that the governor said Sunday was fuelled by intolerance and evidence of a “cancer” in American politics.

A suspect is in custody at the Ramapo Police headquarters and will face five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, according to Police Chief Brad Weidel. Police identified him as Grafton E. Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, N.Y.

The Saturday night stabbings north of New York City on the seventh night of Hanukkah come on the heels of a string of attacks targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey earlier this month.

The rabbi’s home is in Monsey, a town not far from the New Jersey state line and one of several in the Hudson Valley that has seen an influx of Hasidic Jews in recent years. The Rockland County town is 56 kilometres north of New York City.


One person was very seriously wounded and remained in critical condition, the governor told reporters. The rabbi’s son was also injured, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. His status and that of the other victims was not clear.

Authorities have not provided a motive for the attack, but Cuomo said it was an example of larger problems.

‘An intolerant time’

“This is an intolerant time in our country,” he said to reporters outside the rabbi’s home on Sunday morning. “We see anger, we see hatred exploding.”

He added: “It is an American cancer on the body politic.”

He said he thought the crime was an act of domestic terrorism and expected it to be prosecuted that way.


An Orthodox Jewish man stands in front of a residence in Monsey, N.Y., Sunday, following a stabbing late Saturday during a Hanukkah celebration. (Allyse Pulliam/The Associated Press)

Police said the stabbings happened around 10 p.m. A witness saw the suspect fleeing in a car and alerted police to a licence plate number, said Weidel, the police chief in Ramapo, which covers Monsey. That allowed police to find his vehicle as he entered New York City, where police apprehended him.

“It was critical to the case,” said Weidel.

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region tweeted reports that the stabbings took place at the house of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration.


The large home on Forshay Road remained cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape early Sunday. According to public records, the home belongs to Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who leads the adjacent synagogue. Several state and local officials had described the location of the stabbings as a synagogue.

Aron Kohn told The New York Times he was inside the residence during the stabbings.

“I was praying for my life,” said Kohn, 65. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”

The attack drew condemnation from top state officials, including Attorney General Letitia James and Israel’s president and prime minister.

“Israel unequivocally condemns the recent expressions of anti-Semitism and the vicious attack in the middle of Hanukkah on the rabbi’s house in Monsey, New York,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We send our wishes of recovery to the wounded. We will co-operate in every way with the local authorities in order to defeat this phenomenon. We offer our help to each and every state.”

Cuomo, who called the stabbings a “cowardly act,” directed the New York State Police hate crimes task force to investigate.

“Let me be clear: anti-Semitism and bigotry of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate,” he said in a statement. “In New York we will always stand up and say with one voice to anyone who wishes to divide and spread fear: You do not represent New York and your actions will not go unpunished.”


Jewish communities in the New York City metropolitan area were left shaken following a deadly Dec. 10 shooting rampage at a Jersey City kosher market. Six people — three people who had been inside the store, a police officer and the two killers — died in the gunbattle and standoff that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said was “fuelled” by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.

Police presence to increase in Brooklyn

Last month, a man was stabbed while walking to a synagogue in the same town that was the site of Saturday night’s attack; he required surgery. It’s unclear whether the assailant has been arrested.

And this past week in New York City itself, police have received at least six reports — eight since Dec. 13 — of attacks possibly motivated by anti-Jewish bias. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that police presence would increase in Brooklyn neighbourhoods that are home to large Jewish populations.

“I am so sad for this openly Orthodox Jewish community and the ones across the region,” tweeted Evan Bernstein, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey who went to the scene in Monsey. “When will a break from this hate come? When will the community be able to be relaxed again? Hanukkah will never be the same for so many of the Jews impacted.”

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