Four killed in Myanmar protests as military cracks down on online critics

WION Web Team
Yangon, Myanmar Published: Apr 03, 2021, 10.31 AM(IST)

(File photo) Myanmar protests Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group said on Saturday the security forces have killed 550 people, 46 of them children, since the military overthrew an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Myanmar security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protests on Saturday killing four people as the military turned to internet blocks and arrest warrants for online critics in order to end dissent in the country.

One man was shot and killed in the southern town of Thaton, the Bago Weekly Journal online news portal reported. The media outlet earlier reported one person was killed in Bago town but later said the person was wounded by had not died.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group said on Saturday the security forces have killed 550 people, 46 of them children, since the military overthrew an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1. There were two deaths on Friday.

Despite the repression, opponents of the coup march every day, and often in nights, in cities and towns across the country, often holding what they call "guerrilla rallies", small, quick shows of defiance before security forces can respond.

The authorities, who had already shut down mobile data in a bid to stifle opposition, ordered internet providers from Friday to cut wireless broadband, depriving most customers of access.

Authorities also issued warrants for 18 show business celebrities including social media influencers and two journalists under a law against material intended to cause a member of the armed forces to mutiny or disregard their duty, state media reported late on Friday.

While the military has banned social media platforms like Facebook, the junta has continued to use social media to track critics and promote its message. MRTV maintains a YouTube channel and shares links to its broadcasts on Twitter, both of which are officially banned.

Also read | Myanmar protesters urge 'guerrilla strikes' as internet blackout widens

The United States, to this end, has condemned the internet shutdown. "We hope this won’t silence the voices of the people," a State Department spokeswoman, Jalina Porter, told a briefing.

Porter said the shutdown would also have consequences for people who use the internet to benefit from online health programmes.

The security forces have arrested numerous suspected opponents of the coup.

One person was shot and wounded in a raid in the second city of Mandalay on Friday night, the Mizzima news service said. The coup has also rekindled old wars with autonomy-seeking ethnic minority forces in the north and the east.

Myanmar's oldest insurgent group, the Karen National Union (KNU), has seen the first military air strikes on its forces in more than 20 years since announcing its support for the pro-democracy movement.

The KNU said more than 12,000 villagers had fled from their homes because of the air strikes and it called for an international embargo on arms sales to the military.

Media has reported that about 20 people were killed in air strikes in KNU territory in recent days, including nearly a dozen at a gold mine run by the group.

Fighting has also flared in the north between the army and ethnic Kachin insurgents.

(with inputs from agencies)

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