Myanmar, undeterred by worst day of violence, continues to protest and grieve

WION Web Team
Yangon, Myanmar Published: Feb 21, 2021, 08.54 PM(IST)

Protests in Myanmar Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The military has been unable to quell the demonstrations and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes against the coup and the detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others, even with a promise of new elections and stern warnings against dissent.

Huge crowds marched in Myanmar on Sunday to denounce a February 1 military coup in a show of defiance after the bloodiest episode of the campaign for democracy the previous day, when security forces fired on protesters, killing two.

The military has been unable to quell the demonstrations and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes against the coup and the detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others, even with a promise of new elections and stern warnings against dissent.

In the main city of Yangon, thousands of mostly young people gathered at different sites to chant slogans and sing.

In Myitkyina in the north, people laid flowers for the dead protesters. Big crowds marched in the central towns of Monywa and Bagan, in Dawei and Myeik in the south, Myawaddy in the east and Lashio in the northeast.

Thousands lined the route of the procession to pay tribute to Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who was shot in the head two days before her 20th birthday at a protest demanding the release of Suu Kyi.

Also read | Facebook deletes main page of Myanmar military

The grocery store worker was kept on life support for 10 days but succumbed to her wounds on Friday, making her the first protester killed for participating in the massive civil disobedience campaign sweeping the country.

State media claimed on Sunday that an autopsy of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing's body showed the bullet was not fired by police officers. It also claimed she was "throwing stones" at security forces at the protest.

But Amnesty International said footage of the incident showed that "police recklessly targeted protesters, with no respect for their lives or safety".

A rights group said 569 people have been detained in connection with the coup.

At the tourist spot of Inle Lake, people including Buddhist monks took to a flotilla of boats holding aloft portraits of Suu Kyi and signs saying "military coup - end".

The more than two weeks of protests had been largely peaceful until Saturday, unlike previous episodes of opposition during nearly half a century of direct military rule to 2011. The violence looked unlikely to end the agitation.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the strikers sabotaged boats at the city`s river port and attacked police with sticks, knives and catapults. Eight policemen and several soldiers were injured.

Suu Kyi`s National League for Democracy (NLD) condemned the violence by security forces in Mandalay as a crime against humanity.

The army seized power after alleging fraud in November 8 elections that the NLD swept, detaining Suu Kyi and others. The electoral commission dismissed the fraud complaints.

Facebook deleted the military's main page for repeated violations of its standards "prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm" and Western countries that condemned the coup decried the violence.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was "deeply concerned". France, Singapore, Britain and Germany also condemned the violence while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said lethal force was unacceptable.

The United States, Britain and others have announced limited sanctions, focussing on military leaders, but the generals have long shrugged off foreign pressure.

Suu Kyi faces a charge of violating a Natural Disaster Management Law as well as illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios. Her next court appearance is on March 1.

(with inputs from agencies)

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