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Aung San Suu Kyi Marks 3rd Month Under House Arrest

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Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi completed a third month under military-ordered house arrest Saturday — a period marked by scatter-gun criminal charges and apparent isolation from the chaos engulfing the country.

The nation has been plunged into violence since the military deposed the Nobel laureate in a February 1 coup, ending Myanmar’s brief tryst with democracy.

The resumption of junta rule sparked a wave of protests and a brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, in which security forces have killed more than 750 people, according to a local monitoring group.

Charged on six counts including sedition and under Myanmar’s official secrets law, Suu Kyi has been denied private meetings with her lawyers.

Instead, she has had only a couple of video meetings that were physically monitored by security officials at both ends, her defence team told AFP.

“We haven’t had the chance up to now to meet to get instruction from our client. Without getting instructions from the accused, how can we defend her?” lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told AFP.

“We are very concerned for the defendant’s right to justice.”

Min Min Soe, another member of the defence team, said on Monday that Suu Kyi is cut off from information about the ongoing unrest at the house where she is being detained in the capital Naypyidaw.

“I think she is not getting access to watch news and TV. I do not think she knows the current situation,” Min Min Soe said.

Symbol of Democracy

Suu Kyi spent more than 15 years under house arrest during previous military rule before her 2010 release and rise to power in elections held five years later.

Her international stature diminished following a wave of military violence targeting Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s marginalised Muslim Rohingya community that displaced more than a million people, but the coup has returned Suu Kyi to the role of cloistered democracy icon.

“As somebody who has had an impact on the democracy movement in Myanmar all these years, in that sense, she is irreplaceable,” said Moe Thuzar from the Singapore-based ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, a politics and security research centre.

“Even if people did not agree with the politics of the National League for Democracy, the way they viewed Aung San Suu Kyi as someone who has led the opposition, someone who has spoken up for democracy in the past, and also, as the child of the country’s independence hero, I think those things count for something.”

Suu Kyi’s NLD party built ties with the powerful military during the years of democracy, but the relationship frayed after November’s elections.

The NLD won a landslide but the military called foul and then seized power when the election commission failed to investigate fraud claims to the generals’ satisfaction.

Since Suu Kyi’s arrest 12 weeks ago, the military has deployed lethal force on the streets to try to crush demonstrations and arrested more than 4,500 people.

But the army has been careful to keep her out of sight, even as it has piled up criminal charges — and corruption allegations — against her.

Even if she is cut off from the movement, her image adorns posters and banners at virtually every protest, and demonstrators demand her release.

“Mother Suu is old now and she will pass away some time, so we should assume our responsibilities without her,” a 33-year-old activist told AFP.

“As Mom Su believes in us, we also believe in her again, and we will continue fighting until the winning moment of our uprising.”

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Madhya Pradesh Woman Killed for Giving Birth to 4 Girls, Over Dowry

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A 28-year-old woman was killed allegedly by her husband and in-laws for giving birth to four girls, last of which was born just three months ago, and also over dowry in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district, police said on Friday. Savitri Baghel was strangled to death allegedly by her husband Ratan Singh, his father Kilold Singh and mother Benoo Bai at their home in village Dindoli, some 80km from the district headquarters, on Thursday, Police Inspector Ramraja Tiwari said.

He said according to the deceased’s brother Krishna Baghel, Ratan Singh and his parents used to harass his sister for giving birth to four daughters and not bearing a male child. Krishna Baghel told the police his sister had given birth to the fourth daughter just three months ago, he added.

The family would also harass the woman for dowry, Tiwari said. The accused have been booked under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 304B (dowry death), but no arrest has been made so far, the police officer said.

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Pune Municipal Corporation receives consent to float global vaccine tender

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The Pune Municipal Corporation has finally received the consent of the state government to float global tenders to vaccinate its citizens. The approval from the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government came after the PMC threatened to move ahead with the process without their consent.

The consent by the Maharashtra Government comes more than three weeks after it was initially sought. The Pune Municipal Corporation had earlier decided to move ahead with the process saying that lives were more important.

Siddharth Shirole, BJP MLA from Shivajinagar constituency in Pune, on Thursday had slammed the state government for granting permission to the BMCV to float global tenders within 24 hours but not awarding the same to Pune despite 23 days having passed.

The Leader of the House in Pune Municipal Corporation is Ganesh Bidkar from the BJP. The BJP had accused the state government of discriminating against Pune. Pune wants 25 lakh vaccines to inoculate its citizens against Covid-19.

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Took Your Covishield Jab Before Govt Extended Gap Between Doses? No Need to Fret: Panel Member

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Amid criticism on increasing the duration of the second dose of Covishield, a member of the group that recommended the huge change said that the decision was based on science and not vaccine shortage. Comparing the benefits of increasing the duration, the government has launched a detailed study to compare the benefits, said NK Arora, chairman of the Covid working group.

On Thursday, the government announced that the gap between two shots of Covishield should be 12 to 16 weeks- earlier, which was six to eight weeks.

A member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, Dr Arora, rejected speculation that the decision was spurred by vaccine shortage that has halted inoculations of those between 18 and 44 in parts of the country, NDTV reported.

“If I increase the gap by one month, then what difference will it make? It will make a difference of about four to six crore doses. So giving the second dose after a month is hardly going to address vaccine shortage. Increasing the gap is beneficial,” he added.

He further emphasised that scientific data states that if the second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine- officially known as Covishield in India was given after three months of the first dosage then the chances of protection from infection is 65 to 88 per cent.

“Initial studies on the vaccine had even talked about a 44-week gap. Canada has made it four months,” he added.

He also stated that the antibodies to fight the virus increased substantially after the second dose, but the degree of their impact was not yet known. “But data shows if the gap is increased, the antibodies increase by 40 to 50 per cent,” he added.

Addressing concerns of people who stated that they have taken shots within a one-two month gap, he said that “those who have taken the shots within a one or two month gap do not need to worry and the production of antibodies will be good.”

On comparing the effectiveness of the vaccine for a 28-day gap, a four-six week gap or 12-16 week gap, Dr Arora said there was no data so far but the government had planned a study.

“How much protection will increasing the gap give? How much will it protect from the severity of infection or death? In the next four weeks, data of this study will start coming and will be released in regular bulletins,” he disclosed.

So far, the data has revealed a 0.02 to 0.04 per cent chance of reinfection after both doses, and the chances of a severe infection or death were “very rare”, he said.

According to him, around 95 per cent of adverse effects after full vaccination were mild and only a fraction was severe. “But our data has shortcomings. Most adverse impact cases are reported only in the first three-four days. We have asked for data on problems experienced even after 28 days.”

Taking cognizance of cases of death in patients who had administered both the dosages, Dr Arora told NDTV these were still being examined and they have to see whether those are from Covid or from the vaccine.

“We don’t know much about Covaxin yet but from international reports, we know that there can be problems four to 20 days after a Covishield shot. There could be clotting or bleeding. We haven’t seen this problem here so much, only about 0.61 per cent. About six persons in a crore can experience clotting or bleeding. That is far less than European numbers,” he added, asserting that the vaccines were completely safe.

Responding to the query on door-to-door vaccinations, Dr Arora said that the reason why door-to-door vaccinations had not been allowed was that in case of a severe allergic reaction if there was no immediate treatment, it could cause death.

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