The bloodied body of a National League for Democracy local chairman was returned to his family Sunday, a day after he was taken away in a series of violent house-to-house raids on residences in Yangon, Myanmar’s second-largest city and tortured, witnesses and local media reports said.
As protests rejecting the Feb. 1 military coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD government raged on in major cities despite shootings and beatings, video shared on social media showed police raiding homes of politicians late Saturday with guns blazing, while witnesses said police were beating and arresting those on the scene.
Khin Maung Latt, 58, the NLD chairman in Yangon’s outlying Pabedan township, was taken away by the army and police Saturday night and the next day local police told his family he was dead.
The Irrawaddy online news outlet quoted Tun Kyi of the Former Political Prisoners Society, as saying that Khin Maung Latt was tortured to death. Tun Yi helped the family arrange his funeral Sunday evening, the report said.
The Irrawaddy also reported that two people, including the local chair of the ousted NLD in the central region of Magway, were hacked to death Friday by members of the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party. The army-proxy USDP is at the center of the unsubstantiated claims of election fraud in last November’s polls that the military cited as the reason for the coup last month.
According to RFA’s tally of verified protest deaths, at least 54 people had died in the protest crackdown and related police brutality.
‘We are witnessing it’
Speaking to RFA on Sunday, a lawmaker who was elected to represent Pabedan last November but was unable to take his seat because of the coup, said the five-week-old military junta was daily “committing crimes that could referred as international war crimes.”
“These are not normal arrests — they were very violent, destroying property, beating people,” said MP-elect Sithu Maung, who like the slain party official is a member of Myanmar’s small Muslim community.
“The military council has transformed the police and the military forces into terrorist groups, who are torturing and killing citizens. We are witnessing it,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
Residents and witnesses said apartment doors were destroyed, people were beaten violently and the neighbors who peaked from their apartment windows were fired on by the police.
A Yangon resident told RFA that people become insecure whenever police and military forces enter their neighborhoods. Livestream videos on social media shared by residents showed police and military forces beating and arresting people who had joined anti-coup protests.
“We are witnessing things that should not be happening,” said a resident of Yangon, a main theatre of protests in the five weeks since the military takeover.
“Night watchmen were protecting their neighborhood, but they were violently beaten up and arrested without reason. Senior citizens whose family members include political party activists or civil disobedience movement participants cannot sleep and live in constant worry and anxiety at night,” said the resident, who requested anonymity for safety reasons.
Shooting near UNESCO temples
Protests carried on throughout the weekend despite the beating and shootings in cities across the nation of 54 million people.
The Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), a watchdog group, said that as of Sunday, 1,790 people had been arrested, charged, or sentenced in relation to the military coup, with 1,472 still being held.
In Yangon, police in riot gear stormed a rally on the main street of Mayangone township, bulldozing protective barriers which were set up by protesters and firing tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets, the protesters said. At least five people were injured, while at least four young protesters in the township were beaten and taken away in a police truck.
In the small town of Htilin in the central Magway region Sunday night, 23-year-old Aung Myat Lin died instantly when police fired on a group of demonstrators demanding the release of detained protesters at the township police station, in a filmed and shared by witnesses that also injured seven others.
Earlier on Sunday, police in riot gear stormed a rally in the UNESCO Heritage Site of Bagan, an ancient royal capital in the Mandalay region that holds some 2200 temples and pagodas and related ruins, firing at crowds near the city’s main market and arresting protesters, residents told RFA.
“At the corner of Bagan Market and the main road, they first positioned. Then they drove to the north, but when turned back along the road, they started shooting several rounds,” said a witness. “A boy next to me was hit across his right cheek,” during 15-20 minutes of non-stop shooting, the resident added.
“As far as I know, only one person was injured, several people were arrested, and four or five motorbikes were confiscated,” the witness said.
The weekend violence came after an appeal Friday from U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, for “robust” Security Council action to stop the violence.
“It is critical that this council is resolute and coherent in putting the security forces on notice and standing with the people of Myanmar firmly, in support of the clear November election results,” she said.
The Security Council took no action Friday and faces a hurdle pursuing coordinated action in the face of an expected veto by the two heavyweight authoritarian regimes on the council China and Russia.
“The army, which was supposed to protect the lives and security of the citizens, has betrayed the people and is committing these horrible crimes. It will be peaceful only when this group is removed,” said political analyst Than Soe Naing.
“As long as this military council holds onto power, people will lose their lives and property and spill their blood, so I think the people need to try to endure and resist in unity for some time,” he added.
In Mandalay, Myanmar’s largest city and the scene of numerous shooting deaths, a local resident who had witnessed fellow protesters shot dead during the protests, said he would not give up.
“This group of unlawful coup makers is indeed a group of terrorists—they arbitrarily treated citizens without law and justice,” he said, adding “we’re trying to stand against them until the military dictatorship fall from power.”
Source: Radio Free Asia