United States orders non-essential diplomats and their families to flee Myanmar

The United States State Department on Tuesday ordered non-essential U.S. diplomats and their families to leave Myanmar, as a deadly government crackdown on demonstrators protesting last month’s coup intensifies.

The department said in a brief statement it would require non-emergency U.S. government employees and their dependents to depart the country in an upgrade of its previous instructions from February 14 that had allowed them to leave voluntarily. The department also reiterated an earlier warning for Americans not to travel to Myanmar, also known as Burma.

“The Burmese military has detained and deposed elected government officials,” the statement said. “Protests and demonstrations against military rule have occurred and are expected to continue.”

The Southeast Asian nation has been wracked by violence since the military ousted a civilian-led government on February 1 and began to forcibly put down protests.

At least 521 civilians have been killed in two months of protests, 141 of them on Saturday, the bloodiest day of the unrest, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The advocacy group said a further eight people died on Tuesday, when thousands came out to march in several towns, according to media and photos on social media.

There were also candle-lit protests overnight in towns across Myanmar in defiance of a curfew and at least one dawn march on Wednesday by demonstrators, media reports said.