Published: Tue, March 16, 2021
Economy | By

At least 59 killed, 129 injured in Sunday’s protest crackdown in Myanmar

At least 59 killed, 129 injured in Sunday’s protest crackdown in Myanmar

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power in a February 1 putsch, triggering a mass uprising that has seen hundreds of thousands protest daily for a return to democracy.

A high-ranking NLD politician who served as speaker of the house during Suu Kyi's previous administration, he was placed under house arrest during the February 1 power grab, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

Police have also aggressively patrolled residential neighborhoods at night, firing into the air and setting off stun grenades as an intimidation tactic. That was in addition to two others - Hlaing Thar Yar and neighboring Shwepyitha - announced late Sunday.

A fourth victim, a woman, died after being shot in the head in Mandalay, the country's second-largest city, as security forces were conducting clearance operations.

In Yangon, a video posted on social media showed crowds of people, some wearing hard hats and gas masks, running down a street amid sounds of gunfire.

The gunning down of protestors is a devastating attack on the people of Myanmar, who have mostly peacefully demanded a return to democracy.

The human rights campaign group Amnesty International has also accused the military of using "battlefield weapons" on unarmed protestors and carrying out premeditated killings.

The United Nations' (UN) envoy for Myanmar strongly condemned the bloodshed, stating that the worldwide community, "including regional actors, must come together in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations".

"China urges Myanmar to take further effective measures to stop all acts of violence, punish the perpetrators in accordance with the law and ensure the safety of life and property of Chinese companies and personnel in Myanmar", its statement said.

The ongoing brutality "severely undermines any prospects for peace and stability" in the country, she said.

Junta-run media MRTV's evening news broadcast labelled the protesters as "criminals" but did not elaborate. The junta has responded with an ever-harsher crackdown by security forces.

Ms Suu Kyi, 75, has been detained since the coup and faces various charges, including allegedly illegally importing walkie-talkie radios and breaking coronavirus protocols.

As many hospitals continue to be occupied by security forces, they are being boycotted in favour of makeshift clinics by medical staff and protesters.

Myanmar law expert Melissa Crouch said the martial law declaration effectively gave complete control to military commanders and sidelined civilian administrators and judges. The orders cover six of Yangon's 33 townships, all of which suffered major violence in recent days. Most deaths were in Yangon.

Most of Sunday's casualties were reported in Yangon.

Many posts in Burmese social media even carried threats to "set fire" to an oil and gas pipeline that connects the China-financed port of Kyaukphyu in Myanmar's Rakhine state to China's Yunnan province.

Four other deaths were reported in the cities of Bago, Mandalay, and Hpakant, according to the AAPP and local media.

The committee has issued several statements since its formation, but the protest movement on the ground appears largely leaderless - with daily rallies organized by local activists.

United Nations special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener issued a statement earlier condemning the bloodshed "as the military defies worldwide calls, including from the Security Council, for restraint, dialogue and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedom", Dujarric said.

The group is now safe and has remained inside the factory to wait for the situation to stabilise, the ministry said in a statement.

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