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At least 26 protesters killed across Myanmar as security forces continue bloody crackdowns

Protest against military coup in Myanmar (Ninjastrikers/WikiCommons)
March 04, 2021

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

At least 26 protesters were killed by police and military forces across Myanmar on Wednesday, witnesses said, on the second bloodiest day in more than a month after a military coup deposed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 13 people died in Yangon’s North Okkalapa township, six people in Monywa, and two in Mandalay, city residents and witnesses said. Video footage from citizen journalists and CCTV cameras provided to RFA showed police brutally beating civilians in several areas.

More than 50 people have been killed due to the violent and arbitrary crackdowns in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a watchdog group.

Across the country, many protesters and bystanders suffered injuries from live ammunition, tear gas, and beatings by security forces in broad daylight during crackdowns on anti-junta demonstrators in heavily populated cities throughout Myanmar.

Several protests were staged in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, where t least 13 people died in a brutal crackdown on demonstrators in suburban North Okkalapa township, residents said. Five demonstrators were injured in the township.

Five protesters were hit by rubber bullets, and five others were arrested during a protest in Yangon’s Sangyaung township, witnesses said.

Policemen broke the windows of some cars parked on roads and arrested not only protesters, but also those who were providing first-aid treatment to the wounded, they said.

Police and soldiers set fire to tires across the road from the protest site and viciously beat four volunteers from an eldercare charity vehicle with blows to the head from their guns, according to CCTV footage of the incident obtained by RFA.

“The military and so-called police are making an enemy of the peaceful protestors, terrorizing and directing their guns towards peoples face, chest, head, back and abdomen,” the AAPP said in its daily report on anti-coup protests, arrests, and deaths. 

“The armed personnel directed random shots towards the crowd of peaceful protests in an intentional manner,” the group said. “They dragged dead bodies and forcibly detained injured people, neglecting any medical care, violently beating and arresting people, shooting randomly into people’s houses with no reason, looting and [burning] public property.”

‘Died on the spot’

At least eight people died amid police violence in Monywa, the largest city in northwestern Myanmar’s Sagaing region, according to the Monwya Gazette.

“We tried to save 10 people of whom two women and two men died of gunshots wounds,” said Aung Nay Myo, a volunteer social worker in the city.

A young woman about 20 years old was shot in the forehead, and a middle-aged woman was hit in the abdomen, he said. A man about 40 years old was shot in the face, and a young man about 20 years old was hit in the head.

“All four of them died on the spot,” said Aung Nay Myo.

Several others were wounded during the crackdown, though he said he did not have an exact number.

In Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, Myo Naing Lin, 39, and Kyel Sin, a woman of unknown age, died of gunshot wounds and several others were injured near 84th and 31st Streets when police and soldiers beat up protesters, residents said.

In Myingyan, a city in Mandalay district, a 20-year-old man died when he was shot in the head by police and soldiers, a volunteer medic said.

“A man was shot in the head, and a bystander was hit in the abdomen when police shot him from a passing truck,” the medic said. “His condition is critical, and he is receiving treatment in a nearby medic camp.”

Residents later reported that the injured bystander, a 21-year-old, had died later in the day. More than 20 people we were injured in the crackdown, they said.

In the Irrawaddy River town of Salin, Magway region, a second-year engineering student was killed by police gunfire, and three others who were wounded are critical condition, witnesses said.

Police and soldiers used tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition to disperse anti-junta demonstrators, they said.

Local police reported that three policeman and one higher-ranking officer were injured when protesters fired pellets from slingshots at them.

In Myitkyina, capital of northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, nearly 10,000 people took part in protest marches with police and soldiers taking action five times to disperse them, protesters said.

Police took away several motorbikes parked along nearby roads and arrested several schoolteachers and protesters, though the exact figure was not available.

Homes ransacked in Pathein

Other brutal crackdowns occurred in the towns of Mawlamyine and Ye in southeastern Myanmar’s Mon state. A 19-year-old university student in Mawlamyine, the state capital, died, witnesses said.

In Lashio, northern Shan state, about 200 youths rode motorbikes around the city in defiance of security forces, with one protester arrested when the group met head-on with a police convoy near Mansu Temple.

In East Ngawun ward in Pathein, Ayeyarwady region, police and soldiers violently broke down the doors of houses where protesters were hiding to make arrests, witnesses said. Security forces ransacked some of the houses and took away some residents who were not involved in the protests.

Nearly 100,000 people including people from Hpruso, Demoso, and Bawleke townships in Loikaw district in the eastern part of Kayah state, took part in anti-regime rallies.

The AAPP said that as of Wednesday, 1,498 people had been arrested, charged, or sentenced in relation to the military coup, with 1,192 still being held.

The number of arrestees includes nearly 30 reporters picked up across the country since Feb. 1. Though some of them have been released, others face defamation charges. During a weekend arrest of an Associated Press reporter, police seized the man while charging at protesters and held him in a chokehold before taking him away, according to a video of the incident.

The reporter was charged with violating a public safety law that carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, according to the Associated Press.