Latest Anti-Coup Demonstrations in Myanmar Turn Deadly

At least two protesters are dead in Myanmar Monday amid another day of public demonstrations against last month’s military overthrow of the civilian government.

The latest fatalities occurred in the city of Myitkyina, the capital of northern Kachin state. Photos taken by reporters with VOA’s Burmese service depict gunshot victims lying in the street in a pool of blood, some being attended to by emergency personnel. Another photo showed a woman being helped to her feet after suffering a gruesome arm injury.

Reuters news agency reported another person was killed at a protest in the town of Phyar Pon in the Irrawaddy Delta, citing a political activist and local media.

The deaths come as thousands of people took to the streets Monday in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, in defiance of a night curfew, to demand that security forces stop their siege of hundreds of young anti-coup protesters in the Sanchaung neighborhood.

“Free the students in Sanchaung,” demonstrators chanted in protests across the city.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said hundreds of peaceful protesters in Sanchaung have been barricaded inside residential apartment complexes for hours and called for “maximum restraint” and “the safe release of all without violence or arrests,” according to his spokesman.

The United Nations noted that many of those trapped are women, who were peacefully marching in commemoration of International Women’s Day.

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement: “We call on those security forces to withdraw and allow people to go home safely.”

Protests also took place Monday in Myanmar’s second-biggest city, Mandalay, the capital, Naypyitaw, and the western town of Monywa.

Many businesses were closed across Yangon on Monday after an alliance of nine trade unions launched a general strike in an attempt to back the anti-coup movement and pressure members of the military junta.

“To continue economic and business activities as usual … will only benefit the military as they repress the energy of the Myanmar people,” they said in a joint statement. “The time to take action in defense of our democracy is now.”

Strikes by civil servants, including those operating trains in the country, have taken place for weeks.

The calls to shut down the economy came Sunday after another bloody day between the protesters and the police and military, who are occupying hospitals in the main city of Yangon.

The United Nations said Monday that the occupation of hospitals by security forces is “completely unacceptable.” A U.N. team in Myanmar said, “hospitals are, and must remain, places of sanctuary and unequivocal neutrality — to ensure that patients undergoing medical care are safe,” according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

An official from ousted de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party died in police custody, a party official confirmed to VOA’s Burmese service.

NLD member Khin Maung Latt was arrested during overnight raids in Yangon Saturday and died while in detention, party lawmaker Sithu Maung said. A cause of death was not released.

Tun Kyi, spokesperson of the Association Assistance for Political Prisoners (AAPP), Burma told VOA Burmese that he accompanied the bereaved family to claim Khin Maung Latt’s body and witnessed blood on his head, his fingers blackened, and wounds on his back.

Police have not commented on the matter.

The AAPP advocacy group said Saturday that more than 1,700 people had been detained under the junta.

“Detainees were punched and kicked with military boots, beaten with police batons, and then dragged into police vehicles,” AAPP said in a statement. “Security forces entered residential areas and tried to arrest further protesters and shot at the homes.”

State television MRTV reported Saturday that Myanmar authorities had exhumed the body of Kyal Sin, also known as Angel, who died while wearing a T-shirt that read, “Everything will be OK.”

Kyal Sin, who has become an icon of the protests, was shot in the head and died Wednesday.

Police, doctors and a judge determined that she was killed by “those who do not want stability” and not police, MRTV said. Officials had said her wound was to the back of her head, and therefore couldn’t have been caused by police. Photos published by Reuters, however, show Kyal Sin had the back of her head turned to a line of security forces moments before she was shot.

Myanmar has been consumed by chaos and violence since February 1, when the military overthrew the civilian government and detained Suu Kyi and other high-ranking NLD officials. Military officials say widespread fraud occurred in last November’s election, which the NLD won in a landslide.?Election officials have denied any significant irregularities.

Source: Voice of America