Myanmar forces shoot dead five demonstrators amid military crackdown

Myanmar forces shoot dead five demonstrators after yesterday saw bloodiest day of democracy protests yet with 44 deaths as military brings in martial law

  •  At least five protesters were killed during demonstrations in the central towns of Myingyan and Aunglan
  •  Sunday saw 44 protesters shot dead by security forces in the bloodiest day since the February 1 
  • Detained democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi was set to appear in court today but hearing has been delayed 

At least five Myanmar pro-democracy protesters have today been shot dead by security forces after yesterday saw the bloodiest day of demonstrations since the military coup began six weeks ago. 

One of the victims was shot in the head while another was shot in the face in the central town of Myingyan, according to witnesses.  

Yesterday saw 44 protesters shot dead by security forces – and despite the unrelenting violence they face, supporters of detained democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi marched again today. 

The ousted leader, who has been detained since the coup and faces various charges, was set to appear in a virtual court today but it could not go ahead because the internet was down which meant no video conferencing, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said. The next hearing will be on March 24.     

Police today opened fire on the protesters in the central towns of Myingyan and Aunglan, according to witnesses and local media.  

‘One girl got shot in the head and a boy got shot in the face,’ an 18-year-old protester in Myingyan told Reuters by telephone. ‘I’m now hiding.’

A man uses a slingshot during the security force crack down on anti-coup protesters in Mandalay

At least five Myanmar pro-democracy protesters have today been shot dead by security forces after yesterday saw the bloodiest day of demonstrations since the military coup began six weeks ago. Pictured: People run away from security forces in Hlaing Thar Yar Township, Yangon on Sunday

Yesterday saw 44 protesters shot dead by security forces – and despite the unrelenting violence they face, supporters of detained democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi marched again today. Pictured: An injured protester is carried after being injured during a crackdown by security forces in Yangon on Sunday

Detained democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi was set to appear in a virtual court today but it could not go ahead because the internet was down which meant no video conferencing, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw (pictured) said today

Demonstrators ride their motorcycles while raising their hands in the three-finger salute in Mandalay on Monday

Relatives of pro-democracy protesters who were killed by security forces are overcome with emotion outside a morgue at Thingangyun Hospital in Yangon on Monday

The Myanmar Now media outlet reported three people were killed there and two in Aunglan town. But in the second city of Mandalay and the western town of Hakha, rallies were peaceful. 

Monday saw four more Yangon townships put under martial law – adding to two subjected to the measures on Sunday – while mobile internet connections appeared to have been shut down.

The declaration of martial law means anyone arrested in the six townships faces trial by military tribunal rather than civilian courts, with sentences ranging from three years’ hard labour to execution

The protesters took to the streets in defiance of the authorities, whose escalating use of violence since the February 1 coup has led to the UN to accuse the military junta of committing crimes against humanity. 

Sunday saw violent clashes between security forces and protesters, leaving at least 44 demonstrators dead according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group.   

‘The ruling junta has showed its teeth and taken its mask off… they are showing their true self,’ Khin Maung Zaw said of Sunday’s violence.   

Demonstrators take cover behind a barricade as security forces fire tear gas at them in Mandalay on Monday

People clash with security forces as they continue to protest against military coup and detention of elected government members in in Hlaing Thar Yar Township

Protesters and resident (behind) make new road block after police burn their makeshift blockade near BayintNaung bridge which links to Hlaingthaya

Protesters display cards and shout slogans as they protest against the military coup in Mandalay on Monday

A wounded person is being carried to hospital as people continue to protest against military coup and detention of elected government members

Protesters take cover behind homemade shields as they face heavily armed security officers in Hlaing Tharyar township in Yangon on Sunday

Yesterday, several Chinese-owned factories in a textile-producing district of Yangon were torched, as many protesters believe Beijing to be supportive of the coup. 

The arson attacks provoked China’s strongest comments yet on the turmoil gripping its Southeast Asian neighbour.   

The Chinese embassy urged Myanmar’s ruling generals to stop violence and ensure the safety of people and property.

China’s Global Times newspaper said 32 Chinese-invested factories were ‘vandalised in vicious attacks’ that caused damage worth $37 million and injuries to two Chinese employees.

Japan, which has long competed for influence in Myanmar with China, said it was monitoring the situation and considering how to respond in terms of economic cooperation.

The worst of Sunday’s bloodshed came in the Yangon suburb of Hlaingthaya where security forces killed at least 37 protesters after arson attacks on Chinese-owned factories, said a doctor in the area who declined to be identified.

Sixteen people were killed in other places, rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said, as well as one policeman. 

Demonstrators have been using fire extinguishers to protect themselves from police and tear gas in the protests

Demonstrators in Yagon were not fazed by Saturday’s events, and gathered past the 8pm curfew to hold a candlelit vigil.

The latest deaths bring the toll from the protests to about 140, based on a tally by the AAPP and the latest reports.

A junta spokesman did not answer calls requesting comment.

In an apparent bid to suppress news of the turmoil, telecoms service providers were ordered to block all mobile data nationwide, two sources with knowledge of the matter said. Telecom Telenor said in a statement ‘mobile internet was unavailable’.

The army said it took power after its accusations of fraud in a November 8 election won by Suu Kyi’s party were rejected by the electoral commission. It has promised to hold a new election, but has not set a date. 

Families are grieving. Pictured, the relatives and friends of Ko Saw Pye Naing, 21, who died in the anti-coup protests  

Demonstrators have been using make shift clinics to receive treatment for their injuries during the protests 

Demonstrators have had to use metal shields as barriers to protect themselves against the weapons being used by military

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

Last week, a charge related to accepting illegal payments of $600,000 in cash as well as a large quantity of gold was added to the list – allegations her lawyer days are ‘groundless’.

She was due to face another virtual court hearing on Monday but her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters the session could not go ahead because the internet was down which meant no video conferencing. The next hearing will be on March 24, he said.   

Khin Maung Zaw has complained he has not been allowed to meet Suu Kyi, who has been in custody since the coup, though he said the 75-year-old appeared in good health at her last court appearance, by video link, on March 1.

The anti-coup protests are continuing, despite the increasingly violent crackdowns on demonstrators

Demonstrators hold candles in vigils held after the 8pm curfew as part of the protests across the city

Protesters sit on a makeshift barricade to deter security forces during demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon

He also said on a video message received by Reuters that he had been informed by authorities that the detained Nobel laureate was only permitted to be represented by two junior lawyers. 

Western countries have called for Suu Kyi’s release and condemned the violence and Asian neighbours have offered to help resolve the crisis but Myanmar has a long record of rejecting outside intervention.

Tom Andrews, the United Nations human rights investigator on Myanmar, appealed for U.N. member states to cut the supply of cash and weapons to the military.

‘Heartbroken/outraged at news of the largest number of protesters murdered by Myanmar security forces in a single day. Junta leaders don’t belong in power, they belong behind bars,’ he said on Twitter.

Myanmar’s oldest ethnic minority insurgent group, the Karen National Union, which signed a ceasefire with the army in 2012 after decades of fighting, also condemned Sunday’s violence and said it fully supported the demonstrators.

China’s embassy described the situation as ‘very severe’ and urged authorities to ‘stop all acts of violence, punish the perpetrators… and ensure the safety of life and property of Chinese companies and personnel’.

A number of people were shot dead during the protests in Myanmar’s largest city as security forces continue their crackdown 

The United Nations has said that around 70 protesters have been ‘murdered’ since last month’s coup

Protesters carried signs that read ‘Coups have no place in our modern world’ as they marched in Mandalay on Sunday 

Anti-Chinese sentiment has risen since the coup, with opponents of the army takeover noting Beijing’s muted criticism compared with Western condemnation.

China’s Global Times newspaper blamed instigators for the arson and called for their punishment. It said China was trying to promote a peaceful settlement of the crisis.

Protest leader Thinzar Shunlei Yi said Myanmar people did not hate their Chinese neighbours but China’s rulers had to understand the outrage felt in Myanmar over their stand.

‘Chinese government must stop supporting coup council if they actually care about Sino-Myanmar relations and to protect their businesses,’ she said on Twitter.

Beijing’s embassy in Myanmar issued a statement condemning the actions of ‘destroyers’ and urging police to ‘guarantee the security’ of Chinese businesses.

The UN envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, strongly condemned Sunday’s bloodshed, while the former colonial power Britain said it was ‘appalled’ by the use of force ‘against innocent people’.

Last week Thomas Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on rights in Myanmar, said there was growing evidence that the junta was engaging in crimes against humanity – including murder, forced disappearances and torture.

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

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