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At least 18 killed in Myanmar on the bloodiest day of protests



Insurgents face protesters taking part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on February 27, 2021.

YOU ARE VERY THU | AFP | Getty Images

Myanmar police fired on protesters around the country on Sunday on the bloodiest day of weeks with demonstrations against a military coup, killing at least 1

8 people, the UN human rights office said.

Police were out of force early on, opening fire in various parts of Yangon’s largest city after stun grenades, tear gas and shots in the air could not break down the crowds. Soldiers also reinforced the police.

Several wounded were pulled away by other protesters, leaving bloody smears on sidewalks, media images showed. A man died after being taken to a hospital with a bullet in the chest, said a doctor who asked not to be identified.

“Police and military forces have confronted peaceful demonstrations using deadly force and less than deadly force that – according to credible information received by the UN Office for Human Rights – has left at least 18 people dead and over 30 wounded,” the UN spokesman said.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the army seized power and detained elected government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership on February 1, alleging fraud in an election in November, which her party won by landslide.

The coup, which brought to an end the tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule, has drawn hundreds of thousands onto the streets and the condemnation of Western countries.

Among the dead were three people in Dawei in the south, politician Kyaw Min Htike told Reuters from the city.

Myanmar Now media reported that two people were killed in a protest in the other city of Mandalay. Security forces fired again later in the day and a woman was killed, Mandalay resident Sai Tun told Reuters.

“The medical team checked her and confirmed that she could not do it. She was shot in the head, “said Sai Tun.

Police and spokesman for the ruling military council did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

The dead in Yangon included a teacher, Tin New Yee, who died after police swarmed to spread a teacher’s protest with stun grenades and sent the crowd on the run, her daughter and a colleague said.

Police also threw stun grenades outside a medical school in Yangon, sending doctors and students in white laboratory coats scattered. A group called the Whitecoat Alliance of Medics said more than 50 medical personnel had been arrested.

Police broke protests in other cities, including Lashio in northeast, Myeik in the deep south and Hpa-An in the east, said residents and media.

‘Outrageous’

Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing said authorities last week used minimal force to deal with the protests.

Nevertheless, at least 21 protesters have now died in the unrest. The army said a police officer was killed.

The establishment seems to indicate that the military is determined to impose its authority in the face of defiance, not only on the streets, but more broadly in public administration, municipal administration, the judiciary, the education and health sectors and the media.

“The clear escalation of Myanmar’s security forces in the use of lethal force in several cities … is outrageous and unacceptable,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asian director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

The Canadian embassy said it was “appalled by a trend towards increased violence and the use of force against protesters” and Indonesia, which has taken the lead within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in its efforts to resolve the unrest, said it was deeply affected.

State MRTV said more than 470 people had been arrested on Saturday when police launched the nationwide crash. It was not clear how many were detained on Sunday.

‘Insert fear’

Youth activist Esther Ze Naw said people were fighting for the fear they had been living with under military rule.

“It’s clear they’re trying to instill fear in us by making us run and hide,” she said. “We can not accept that.”

State television announced on Saturday that Myanmar’s UN envoy had been fired for betraying the country after urging the UN to use “all necessary means” to reverse the coup.

The ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, remained defiant. “I decided to fight back for as long as I could,” he told Reuters in New York.

While Western countries have condemned the coup and some have imposed limited sanctions, generals have traditionally withdrawn from diplomatic pressure. They have promised to hold a new election, but not set a date.

Suu Kyi’s party and supporters said the result of the November vote should be respected.

Suu Kyi, 75, who spent nearly 15 years under house arrest, faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and violating a natural disaster law by violating coronavirus protocols. The next hearing in her case is Monday.


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