Thursday was only the second time an outside visitor was able to see ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi since she was detained during the coup.
Ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi had looked fresh-faced and healthy when she appeared before a court by video-conferencing in the capital Naypyitaw and she said she hoped the people of the country would stay healthy, her lawyer said in an interview.
But Min Min Soe told the media on Thursday it wasn't clear if the former State Counselor knew of the bloody events currently roiling the country, with more than 500 dead at the hands of the security forces since the 1 February coup that overthrew her government.
"I'm not able to say whether she is aware of what is happening outside due to the circumstances yesterday and today at court. She may know or not know but I can't guess," the lawyer said.
"She did not give any comment but she said to all citizens please be healthy, try to be healthy," she added.
Suu Kyi's court hearing
Thursday was only the second time an outside visitor was able to see Suu Kyi since she was detained during the coup.
Min Min Soe had also seen her, 24 hours earlier, again by video link.
She has been detained on several minor criminal charges, and the army said it is investigating more serious allegations of corruption against her.
There had been speculation that she might face even more charges on Thursday but these did not materialize.
Her supporters dismiss the legal actions as politically motivated, aimed at discrediting her and preventing her from returning to the political arena, where she is the country's most popular figure.
Allaying fears about the health of the 75 year old former Nobel Peace laureate, Min Min Soe said "Today she wore a dark blue Yaw (traditional-style) dress and a face mask and her face was animated just like yesterday. It was good to see her today and yesterday via conferencing. She is healthy."
Her case was adjourned and will continue later this month.,
Shutdowns and sanctions
Myanmar's military rulers ordered internet service providers to shut down wireless broadband services until further notice, several telecoms sources said on Thursday.
The instruction to halt wireless broadband services was relayed to employees of one provider in an email seen by Reuters, which did not state a reason for the order. It also said the current mobile internet shutdown would continue and by law it had to comply with the directive.
Also on Thursday, Britain sanctioned a conglomerate that is linked to the Myanmar military.
The sanctions against the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) come into effect immediately.
"The Myanmar military has sunk to a new low with the wanton killing of innocent people, including children," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.
Myanmar activists held protests across the country overnight on Thursday two months after the military seized power, as a United Nations special envoy warned that "a bloodbath is imminent" because of the intensified crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations.
The envoy's warning follows a flare-up in fighting between the army and ethnic minority insurgents in frontier regions.
At least 20 soldiers were killed and four military trucks destroyed in clashes with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), one of Myanmar's most powerful rebel groups, DVB news reported.
A KIA soldier cited by Kachin Liberation Media said the attack happened on Wednesday afternoon.
Reuters could not immediately verify the reports and a junta spokesman did not answers calls seeking comment.
Myanmar military aircraft have started bombing positions of another group, the Karen National Union (KNU), for the first time in more than 20 years and thousands of villagers have fled from their homes, many into Thailand.
Myanmar has been rocked by almost daily protests since the army overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government on February 1 citing unsubstantiated claims of fraud in a November election. Suu Kyi and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) are being held in detention
In cities across Myanmar there were further candle-lit protests overnight including in Myitnge in the Mandalay region, according to media and photographs on social media.
Aid workers targeted
Myanmar Red Cross workers have been arrested, intimidated and injured on the front lines as they tried to treat mounting civilian casualties, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Thursday.
Myanmar Red Cross teams had provided care for over 2,000 people, a statement said. They have also been targeted.
"Myanmar Red Cross first aiders and medics have been wrongfully arrested, intimidated or injured and Red Cross property and ambulances have been damaged. This is unacceptable," Alexander Matheou, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Regional Director, said.
"Health workers should never be a target. They should be granted unrestricted humanitarian access to people in need."
The statement did not identify any group as being responsible for the attacks and a Red Cross spokesman declined further comment.
Videos on social media have shown members of the security forces assaulting and abusing medics and in at least one instance shooting up an ambulance.
Reuters has not independently verified these videos.
The unrest also threatened efforts to contain the Covid-19 epidemic, with testing, tracing and treatment sharply down.
"We could be facing a perfect storm in Myanmar where another wave of Covid-19 infections collide s with a deepening humanitarian crisis spreading across the entire country,” Matheou said.
Shocked by violence, suffering and loss of life in #Myanmar. Proud and moved by @MyanmarRedCross volunteers who are providing life saving first aid in a very complex environment. Violence must stop now. Every single life must be respected and protected. pic.twitter.com/lG4XdV5qmv— Francesco Rocca (@Francescorocca) March 29, 2021
US urges China to use influence
At least 536 civilians have been killed in protests, 141 of them on Saturday, the bloodiest day of the unrest, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
The United States on Wednesday urged China, which it has significant economic and strategic interests in Myanmar, to use its influence to hold account those responsible for the military coup.
While Western countries have strongly condemned the coup, China has been more cautious and the government's top diplomat Wang Yi called for stability during a meeting with his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday.
"China welcomes and supports ASEAN's adherence to the principle of non-interference ... and the 'ASEAN approach' in playing a positive role in promoting the stability of the situation in Myanmar," China's foreign ministry said in a statement after the meeting, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Singapore's foreign ministry said the ministers "called for a de-escalation of the situation, a cessation of violence and the commencement of constructive dialogue among all sides".
ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member, has a pledge not to interfere in each other's affairs, but led by Indonesia some countries have been actively pushing diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis.
Still, the military has up to now appeared impervious to outside pressure.