Security forces open fire on protesters in Myanmar's east

WION Web Team
Yangon, Myanmar Published: Mar 25, 2021, 02:27 PM(IST)

Myanmar police opens fire on anti-coup protesters Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The military junta has been struggling to quell nationwide protests against the February 1 ouster and arrest of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and has since unleashed a wave of violence and anarchy in the country.

Security forces Thursday opened fire on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar's eastern Karen state, as demonstrators -- yet again -- took to the streets in nationwide rallies.

The military junta has been struggling to quell nationwide protests against the February 1 ouster and arrest of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and has since unleashed a wave of violence and anarchy in the country.

Protesters have, however, continued calling for the military to step down, defying nighttime curfews to stage candlelight vigils for the dead.

Despite police action, protesters in Hpa-An of Karen state continued staging impromptu gatherings throughout Thursday, driving through the town and flashing the three-finger salute -- a sign of resistance against the junta.

In parts of Myanmar's commercial hub Yangon, people marched with red balloons at dawn with signs saying "Get out terrorist dictator", according to local media.

Also read | US to blacklist Myanmar military companies after coup, crackdown

In the country's second largest city Mandalay, scores of health workers paraded through the streets at dawn carrying flags.

Thursday's protests followed a day of "silent strikes" on Wednesday that left the streets of Yangon and other major centres deserted.

Overnight, a village south of Mandalay used candles to show support for a group of ousted MPs -- called the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), the Burmese word for "parliament" -- working underground against the junta. The junta has banned the group, announcing that any involvement with them is akin to "high treason".

So far, more than 280 people have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners -- a local monitoring group tracking the death toll and arrests. But the junta puts the death toll as much lower at 164, and has branded the victims as "violent terrorist people".

International condemnation from the UN, United States and former colonial power Britain has done little to quell the violent crackdowns.

Also read | Myanmar's junta frees hundreds of prisoners; silent strike in Yangon

There are fears that Saturday -- Myanmar's Armed Forces Day, usually marked with a parade in Naypyidaw -- could be a flashpoint.

(with inputs from agencies)

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