Leading Myanmar actor is latest to be arrested as military hunts scores of celebrities for opposing coup

Paing Takhon has been participating in the anti-coup protests and demanded the release of Aung San Suu Kyi

Akshita Jain
Thursday 08 April 2021 13:59
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Myanmar junta charges celebrities with promoting protests

Myanmar security forces arrested actor Paing Takhon on Thursday as part of a growing crackdown on celebrities who have supported nationwide anti-coup protests.

Takhon, an actor and model, is popular in both Myanmar and across the border in Thailand. He had been participating in the anti-coup protests both in person at rallies and by posting on his social media.  

The actor had reportedly demanded the release of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and condemned the military coup in an online post which has since been taken down.

His sister, Thi Thi Lwin, said he was detained by the military at their parents’ house in Yangon where he had been staying while unwell. 

She said about 50 soldiers came with eight military trucks to arrest him and that the family did not know where he had been taken. He had been suffering from malaria and has a heart condition, she said.

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Takhon is the latest celebrity to be detained, as the military has stepped up its activities against some of the country’s most prominent young stars and influencers for supporting protests against its seizure of power on 1 February.

Security forces arrested the country’s best-known comedian Zarganar this week from his home in Yangon. It was not immediately clear with what he has been charged. 

In the past week, the junta has issued arrest warrants for at least 60 people including actors, musicians and those in the fields of literature and theatrical arts for spreading information that it says undermines the stability of the country. 

Beauty pageant winner Han Lay also spoke out against the coup at an event in Thailand and appealed for international help to re-establish democracy in her country. 

Protests have been widespread after the military coup ousted Ms Suu Kyi from power. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said on Wednesday that nearly 600 civilians have been killed by the security forces since February and 2,847 were in detention. 

While senior members of Ms Suu Kyi’s political party largely remain under house arrest, some other officials have risked their positions to speak out in the name of democracy. They include the ambassador to Britain who was locked out of his embassy in London on Wednesday by its military attache.

Kyaw Zwar Minn had called for the release of Ms Suu Kyi but insisted he took a “middle ground” over the coup. Nonetheless, the junta government said his position as ambassador had now been “terminated”. He has urged Britain not to recognise the military’s representatives in London and to send them back to Myanmar.

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