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Myanmar pots ring out for CNN crew escorted by army

(Reuters) -People in Myanmar’s main city, Yangon, banged pots and pans on Wednesday in a show of defiance against the ruling junta during a visit to Yangon by a news crew from CNN travelling in a heavily armed convoy.

Opponents of the army’s Feb. 1 coup voiced concern that the journalists would not be shown a full picture of the situation in Myanmar, where security forces have killed more than 500 civilians in attempts to suppress anti-junta protests.

“The phone doesn’t pick the sound well but people were banging pots and pans as our heavily armed convoy drove past,” CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward said in a social media post.

A junta spokesman did not answer a call to request comment.

Israeli-Canadian lobbyist Ari Ben-Menashe, who has been hired by the junta, told Reuters he had arranged the CNN visit and that the team would be free to report what they want.

CNN did not respond immediately to a request for comment on whether he had arranged the visit and whether the reporters would be able to present a full picture.

Ben-Menashe said the security convoys were only escorting the CNN crew to interviews with officials and to factories destroyed this month.

“We feel that people should go in and report what they report, whether it’s good or bad. What was being reported until now is really nonsense,” he said.

Myanmar journalists have complained of restrictions under the military authorities.

At least 48 journalists have been detained by the junta since it overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group. Some 25 of them are still in detention.

The licenses of several independent news outlets have been cancelled. Most newspapers have ceased operations. Media have been instructed not to describe the authorities as a junta or the army takeover as a coup.

Opponents of the junta voiced fears the CNN team would be shown false evidence and given the impression life in Myanmar was back to normal.

“We are banging pots and pans simultaneously at 1PM to show her peacefully that we all are against military coup and we are actually not OK!” wrote one Twitter user who identified as San San.

Reporting by Reuters staff; Editing by Matthew Tostevin

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