Thousands take to the streets again after the bloodiest day since the coup in Myanmar
© Reuters. Protest against the military coup in Yangon
(Reuters) – Myanmar security forces killed a man in the capital, Yangon, on Monday, media reported, as activists urged ethnic minority forces in the diverse nation to support their campaign against military rule.
After the bloodiest day since the February 1 military coup with 114 deaths on Saturday, thousands of people took to the streets again on Monday in numerous cities to demonstrate their opposition to the relapse into military rule after a decade of democratic reforms.
One man was killed and several injured when security forces fired in a neighborhood in Yangon, media said and a witness said.
“He was shot in the head,” witness Thiha Soe told Reuters about the victim, who he said was 20 years old.
“They shot everything on the street, even a Red Cross team. It still goes on while I speak to you.”
The police and a junta spokesman did not answer calls for comments. The Myanmar Red Cross said in a message it was reviewing the report.
Based on a balance sheet by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 460 civilians have been killed since the coup.
Despite the violence, there were crowds in the central cities of Bago, Minhla, Khin-U and Pinlebu, the southern city of Mawlamyine, Demoso in the east, and Hsipaw and Mytitkyina in the north, according to media and social media posts.
The General Strike Committee of Nationalities, a major protest group, wrote an open letter on Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 calling on ethnic minorities to help those who oppose the military’s “unfair repression”.
“It is necessary that the armed ethnic organizations protect the people together,” said the protest group.
“INTERNAL PROBLEM, PLEASE”
Insurgents from various ethnic minorities have been fighting against the central government for more autonomy for decades. Although many groups have agreed on ceasefires, fighting has broken out between the army and armed forces in the east and north in recent days.
Heavy clashes broke out over the weekend near the Thai border between the army and fighters from Myanmar’s oldest ethnic minority, the Karen National Union (KNU).
About 3,000 villagers fled to Thailand when military jets bombed a KNU area and killed three civilians after a KNU force overran an army outpost and killed 10 people, an activist group and media said.
Tens of thousands of Karen villagers have lived in camps in Thailand for decades, and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said he wanted Myanmar’s latest troubles to stay there.
“Please let this be an internal problem. We do not want an exodus, no evacuation into our territory, but we will also uphold human rights,” Prayuth told reporters in Bangkok.
Fighting between ethnic Kachin insurgents and the military in the jade mining area of Hpakant broke out in northern Myanmar on Sunday. Kachin Independence Army (KIA) fighters attacked a police station and the military responded with an air strike, the Kachinwaves media reported.
There were no reports of victims.
Both the KNU and the KIA have expressed their support for the anti-coup movement and called on the army to stop violence against civilian demonstrators.
For decades, the military in Myanmar justified its coming to power on the grounds that it was the only institution capable of maintaining national unity. It seized power and said the November election won by Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s party was fraudulent, a claim rejected by the Electoral Commission.
Suu Kyi remains in custody in an undisclosed location and many others from her party are also in custody.
At least six children between the ages of 10 and 16 were killed in bloodshed on Saturday, according to news and witnesses. Protesters call the victims “Fallen Stars”.
UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews said the army was carrying out “mass murder” and called on the world to isolate the junta and block their access to weapons.
But foreign criticism and sanctions imposed by some Western countries did not affect the generals, nor did the daily protests.
Maj. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, said during a Forces Day parade on Saturday that the military will protect the people and pursue democracy.
Countries like the USA, Great Britain, Germany and the European Union condemned the violence again.
“It’s awful, it’s absolutely outrageous,” US President Joe Biden told reporters in Delaware.
The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, called on the generals to withdraw from a “senseless route” of violence against their own people.
The chief military officer from the United States and nearly a dozen of his colleagues said a professional military is “responsible for protecting – not harming” the people it serves.