The army in Myanmar committed a coup détat on 1 February and since then the population has been on the streets on a daily basis. All over the country is being stopped. Protesters are forcibly driven apart by the military and the police, hundreds of people have been arrested and people have already been killed. But not as much as today in one day. Since this weekend, Myanmars military regime has been much more repressive.
In six cities, protesters were fired sharply. Tear gas and flash grenades were also deployed. At least eighteen protesters died say the United Nations, thirty people were injured. According to the Democratic Voice of Burma, a media organization of Myanmarese abroad, there may even be 29 deaths.
The UN, countries such as Indonesia and the United Kingdom and various human rights organisations condemned the violence. The UK claims to have, along with the US and Canada, imposed sanctions against nine top soldiers, including army leader Min Aung Hlaing.
“ The escalation by Myanmar security forces by using lethal force in multiple places in the country, in response to mostly peaceful anti-coup protesters, is disgraceful and unacceptable and must stop immediately,” said Phil Robertson of NGO Human Rights Watch.
Footage of police shooting protesters in Myanmar:
A statement yesterday by the State Administration Council, the actual military government, was already a harbinger of the tougher repression. The junta had distributed “patiently” warnings for three weeks, was stated in the statement. But the army said that it could not accept “anarchist mobs” that “intend to harm the majority who want to live stably and in peace.” The army warned: Heavily action will be taken against them to ensure that they do not harm the interests of the State and the socio-economic lives of the people.
A day later, the act was added to the word and the bloodiest day since the coup détat began.
Since Saturday, the number of arrests of protesters has risen considerably, writes press agency AP. For this weekend, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, there were some 850, but hundreds would have been added. Many of the protesters arrested have been taken to the Insein prison in Yangon, where political prisoners are held. Where previously mainly the police intervened, more and more soldiers are now being deployed in demonstrations.
Protesters did not withdraw despite the increased violence, notes a BBC correspondent. He was in Yangon at a place where someone was shot: “I saw blood on the street and a homemade shield. The bullet had passed through the shield. A few minutes later, more protesters occupied the street, blocking the area with shields and shopping carts, and getting ready to face the police.”
The correspondent says two people were shot at that spot. “But the people did not retreat.”
Press agency Reuters spoke to Nyan Win Shein, one of the protesters: “If they push us, we will stand up. If they attack us, we will defend ourselves. We will never kneel before their army boots.”