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How to hurt Myanmar coup leaders, according to activists



TOn Monday, the US imposed new sanctions on the top leaders of Myanmar’s military junta on the eve of the anniversary of their overthrow of the country’s democratically elected government and the imprisonment of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The US, joined by the UK and Canada, announced sanctions against officials who helped prosecute Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the National League for Democracy. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was arrested during the February 1, 2021 coup. As of 10 January, the Myanmar courts have sentenced her to six years in prison, but she faces additional charges.

Washington also imposed fines on the heir The Cho Taung familywho is New York once said he had close ties to the Myanmar military and helped them procure equipment. Sanctions have also been directed against Myanmar’s government agency responsible for purchasing weapons for the armed forces, locally known as the Tatmadaw.

But Myanmar activists and watchers say targeted sanctions will do little to contain a brutal regime that is increasingly isolated from the West and determined to quell resistance to its rule through brutal repression. More than 1,500 people have been killed in clashes with the junta across the country, according to the human rights group, the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners.

“I think it’s fair to say that after the coup, the West had little leverage on Myanmar both politically and on the ground,” says John Nielsen, senior analyst at the Danish Institute of International Studies and former Danish ambassador to Myanmar.

Democracy protesters have long called on the international community to find ways to cut off the junta’s revenue streams. And after last year’s coup, several Western firms, including energy giants, Total energy France and chevrons United States – promised to withdraw business from Myanmar due to human rights violations in the country.

read more: Myanmar artists continue to resist from abroad

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and other members of the Tatmadaw were already under US and other sanctions. Human Rights Watch called on the UN Security Council to impose a legally binding global arms embargo on Myanmar.

But in addition to the punitive measures, Burmese exiles say the international community must work to protect the people suffering under the junta’s rule. London-based Burmese activist and scholar Maung Zarni says neighboring states should open their borders to Burmese refugees fleeing the Tatmadaw.

They are also wary of the dialogue with the warlords advocated by neighboring countries, including some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Nai San Lwin, co-founder of the Rohingya Freedom Coalition, a global network of Rohingya activists and allies, says many Burmese protesters believe such talks will only strengthen the legitimacy of the coup leaders.

read more: “Risk it all.” Myanmar activist talks about her struggle

But not everyone avoids the Tatmadaw. Russia has been criticized for warming up after the coup in Myanmar. keep selling guns and its officials who were present events led by the junta. China also does business with Myanmar, but is more ambivalent: it called for “restart the democratic process” in the Southeast Asian country, interacting with both the Tatmadaw and the ethnic military. “China’s main goals in Myanmar are to ensure stability on the borders and gain access to the Indian Ocean through the economic corridor from Kunming to Rakhine. They will work with any party to the conflict to achieve these goals – and that is, in fact, what they do,” says Nielsen.

Jason Tower, US Institute of Peace director for Myanmar, says a regional approach to the crisis is needed as companies closely linked to the junta operate in neighboring states. If the US and its allies can convince Myanmar’s neighbors, including Thailand and India, to crack down on these firms, it could greatly affect the cash flow of military leaders.

But the window for such actions may close. Cambodia assumed the ASEAN Presidency in 2022. And Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is not a supporter of democracy –gave conditional invitation to coup leader in Myanmar. Last year, nine countries banned the representative of the Myanmar junta from attending its meetings.

A growing number of activists say they cannot rely on the international community to support their cause to restore democratic government in Myanmar. They place their hope in the ethnic minority militias who have long fought the Tatmadaw and in the People’s Defense Forces, an armed group made up of members of Myanmar’s exiled shadow government and pro-democracy protesters. “If we want to be free, we must fight for ourselves,” Zarni says.

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Ghost town in the middle? More and more cities are turning empty offices into homes.



On the 31st floor of what was once a tall office building in midtown Manhattan, builders are laying down steel bracing for what will soon anchor a host of residential amenities: a dining room, living room, fire pit and gas grills.

The building, which has been vacant since 2021, will be converted into 588 apartments for rent at a market price, which will accommodate about 1,000 people. “We’re taking a vacant building and injecting life into not just this building, but the entire neighborhood,” said Joey Cilelli, managing director of real estate company Vanbarton Group, which is doing the transformation.

Across the country, office-to-living conversions are seen as a potential lifeline for struggling downtown business districts that have been emptied during the coronavirus pandemic and may never fully recover. The desire for conversion is characterized by an emphasis on accessibility. Many cities offer serious tax breaks to developers to encourage office-to-housing conversions, as long as a certain percentage of apartments are offered at affordable, below-market prices.

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CNN anchor Don Lemon furious after being fired



“I am overwhelmed,” writes Don Lemon, leaving the American cable news network after 17 years on the job.

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UK sends military team to consider evacuation options



Fighting engulfed the capital of Sudan, the city of Khartoum.

A small British military intelligence team is in Sudan to assess evacuation options, BBC News has learned.

Minister Andrew Mitchell told MPs on Tuesday that the government is considering “every possible option” to get UK citizens out of the country.

Hundreds of people died in clashes between rival military factions that broke out on 15 April, mostly in Khartoum.

Some 2,000 British citizens have asked for help, but any evacuation comes with “serious” risks, the government has warned.

The UK airlifted diplomats and their families from Sudan on Sunday as part of a special military operation, but the government said there could be up to 4,000 British citizens in total.

A small military team has landed in Port Sudan, more than 500 miles from the capital, to assess options for evacuating British citizens still stranded in Sudan, the BBC has learned.

No decisions have been made to remove the citizens, but defense sources say work is underway to provide the prime minister with options.

It is known that two Royal Navy ships are already in the region – the frigate HMS Lancaster, which was already at sea, and the supply ship RFA Cardigan Bay, which is in Bahrain, where it is undergoing maintenance.

Mr Mitchell said anyone stranded in Sudan should stay at home where possible, but can “decide for themselves whether to move”, adding that they “do so at their own risk”.

He said they are getting “at least daily updates” from the UK government amid criticism from some who believe they have been abandoned in Sudan.

British doctor Iman Abu Gargar told the BBC she was able to leave with the French evacuation because holders of Irish passports, including her son, were able to join her.

Speaking from Djibouti, which is east of Sudan, she said she saw hundreds of soldiers from other European countries but felt left out by Britain.

Dr. Gargar, who was forced to leave her father, said: “There were only difficult decisions to make. I hope no one has to make the decisions that I had to make.”

Amar Osman, a British citizen living in Edinburgh, told the BBC he feared his family would die in Sudan if they couldn’t get out, trapped north of the capital.

He added: “It’s getting worse by the minute, so we’re thinking about evacuating on the way to Egypt. I do everything alone. I collect money, I bring my whole family together. there are six of us.”

French soldiers evacuate French citizens as part of a military operation on Sunday.

Answering MPs’ questions, Mr Mitchell confirmed that neither the British Ambassador to Sudan nor the Deputy Chief of Mission were in the country when the conflict began.

He added that a team of 200 officials is working around the clock in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide consular assistance to those who need it.

Downing Street confirmed that the UK is working with EU and US countries on “common issues” in Sudan, with several other-led evacuations already underway.

An EU diplomatic source told the BBC that more than 1,100 EU citizens have now been evacuated out of an estimated 1,700 believed to be in the country.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverley had previously warned that aid to British citizens remained “limited” in the absence of a ceasefire.

Some MPs pressured the government to step up efforts, including Alicia Kearns, the Conservative House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, who told the Commons that “time is running out”.

But the government has limited options, according to the BBC. political editor Chris Mason writesand continues to use diplomatic channels to secure a ceasefire to facilitate any operation.

A successful operation to rescue diplomats and their families was held over the weekend after gunfire broke out around the embassy in Khartoum.

British special forces landed in Khartoum on Saturday, along with a US evacuation team, BBC learned.

Military vehicles were used to rescue embassy staff and transport them to an airport outside the capital before they were taken to Cyprus.

Some 1,200 British Army, Royal Navy and RAF personnel were involved in the rescue operations, using C-130 Hercules and Airbus A400M transport aircraft.

Secretary of Defense James Hippie stated that the mission to rescue the embassy “went without a hitch” despite its complexity, but “the work is not yet done.”

He added that the Department of Defense was working on options to support British citizens in Sudan, which would be presented to the Prime Minister.

The situation on the ground is “extremely dangerous” at times, he said, and “the window in which the environment is forgiving is rarely long enough for military options to be pursued.”

Mr Hippie acknowledged that the UK had been caught off guard by the rapid deterioration of the situation in Sudan, adding: “It is fair to say that no one in the UK government, nor in the wider international community, has seen the fight against this brutality flare up the way it has. . “

Mitchell told the House of Commons that about 400 British citizens in Sudan hold only a British passport and about 4,000 more have dual citizenship, adding that people will be “treated the same” depending on their status.

Another meeting of Cobra, an emergency response committee made up of ministers, government officials and others, is expected on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres told a meeting of the UN Security Council that the situation in Sudan is deteriorating and the country is “on the brink of an abyss.”

“The violence must stop. This is fraught with a catastrophic fire in Sudan that could engulf the entire region and beyond,” he said.

Communication in Sudan has been limited due to internet outages. Internet monitoring group Netblocks said on Sunday that connection speeds are 2% of normal levels.

Internet in Khartoum has been unavailable since Sunday evening, according to a BBC reporter in the country earlier on Monday, amid reports that one of the remaining providers was taken down by one of the groups involved in the fighting to prevent its rival from broadcasting. programs on national television.

State television, which aired material in support of the ruling army junta, was mostly off on Monday.

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