UN condemns Myanmar junta after three killed in anti-coup unrest
Protesters hold a candlelight vigil outside the US Embassy during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on February 21, 2021.
AFP/Ye Aung Thu

UN condemns Myanmar junta after three killed in anti-coup unrest

(Agence France-Presse) - February 22, 2021 - 8:03am

YANGON, Myanmar — A lethal attack on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar sparked fresh UN condemnation of the country's new military regime on Sunday, as mourners held a funeral for a young woman who has become a national symbol of resistance to the junta.

Authorities have gradually ratcheted up their tactics against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding the return of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In the early hours of Monday, Myanmar plunged into an eighth straight night of internet blackouts, monitoring group NetBlocks confirmed, ahead of a new day of planned major protests.

Saturday marked the deadliest day so far in more than two weeks of nationwide street demonstrations after two people were killed when security forces fired upon a rally in Mandalay, while a third man was shot dead in Yangon.

Protesters in Yangon, Monywa and Myitkyina held candlelight vigils and prayer ceremonies on Sunday to pay tribute to the dead.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the use of "deadly violence" against the crowd in Mandalay.

"The use of lethal force, intimidation & harassment against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable," Guterres wrote on Twitter.

Late on Sunday, Myanmar's foreign ministry accused the UN and foreign countries of "flagrant interference" in its internal affairs.

"Despite facing the unlawful demonstrations, incitements of unrest and violence, the authorities concerned are exercising utmost restraint through minimum use of force to address the disturbances," it said in a statement.

Deadly confrontation

Security forces in Mandalay, the country's second-largest city, had attempted to raid a shipyard and detain port staff on strike to protest against the army takeover.

Medical rescue workers said troops used live rounds and rubber bullets against a crowd of people who had started flinging rocks in an effort to stop the arrests.

"Two people were killed," said Hlaing Min Oo, the chief of a Mandalay-based volunteer emergency rescue team.

Another 30 were wounded, with half of the injuries from live rounds, he added.

A graphic video circulated on Facebook showing a teenaged victim splayed on the ground and bleeding from his head as a bystander placed a hand on his chest to feel for a heartbeat.

State media made no mention of the deaths but blamed demonstrators for the affray and said protest leaders had been detained.

"Some" protesters had been injured by security forces, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported, along with three soldiers and eight police officers.

In a separate incident on Saturday, a 30-year-old man was killed in Yangon while patrolling the neighbourhood as part of an initiative to guard against night-time arrests of activists. 

Tin Htut Hein's sister-in-law said he had been shot dead by police.

"His wife is now heartbroken," she said. "They have a four-year-old son."

Police claimed 20 people attacked a vehicle while officers tried to bring an injured man to hospital, the state-run broadcaster said, and reportedly fired warning shots to disperse the group.

Undeterred by the violence of the previous day, large crowds returned to the streets of Mandalay and Yangon on Sunday.

In the capital Naypyidaw, a funeral service was held for a young protester who died Friday after being shot in the head at a rally.

Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who turned 20 almost two weeks ago as she lay unconscious in a hospital bed, has since become a potent symbol of the campaign against military rule.

A large motorbike guard of honour accompanied her funeral procession, alongside vehicles adorned with floral wreaths and large photos of the grocery store worker.

Vigils in her honour have been held elsewhere in the country by protesters reciting the Metta Sutta, a Buddhist prayer urging protection from harm.

National uproar

Much of Myanmar has been in uproar since troops detained Suu Kyi on February 1, with massive street demonstrations in major cities and isolated villages across the country.

The United States, Britain and Canada have all responded with sanctions targeting Myanmar's top generals.

European Union foreign ministers will meet Monday to discuss their own measures against the regime.

The UN General Assembly is scheduled to convene on Friday for informal talks about the situation of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims, but the coup is likely to take centre stage.

Since the army takeover, 640 people have been detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

Among those targeted have been railway workers, civil servants and bank staff, who have walked off their jobs as part of the anti-coup campaign.

Popular actor Lu Min became the latest high-profile celebrity taken into custody for denouncing the regime. 

"Many police trucks came and arrested (him)," said his wife Khin Sabel Oo, in a video she broadcast live on Facebook as her husband was taken away.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 4, 2021 - 7:33am

Follow this thread for updates on the situation in Myanmar, where a coup may be happening after de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials have reportedly been detained by the military.

Photo: Military officers wearing facemasks who serve as members of Myanmar's parliament leave after a session at the Assembly of the Union (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) in Naypyidaw on March 10, 2020. AFP/Ye Aung Thu

March 4, 2021 - 7:33am

France is calling for "the immediate end of the repression in Myanmar", the release of all those detained and for the return of democracy, President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.

"We are by your side," Macron tweeted, adding his voice to international protests after the United Nations said at least 38 pro-democracy demonstrators were killed by Myanmar security forces on Wednesday. —  AFP

March 3, 2021 - 9:15pm

The Philippines says it is "deeply concerned" with the escalation of violence in Myanmar, where AFP reports at least 10 have been killed after security forces fired on protesters.

"The Philippine government reiterates its call for a complete restoration of the status quo ante and allow State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to play her unifying role," the Department of Foreign Affairs says in a statement.

It also calls on security forces "to exercise restraint from using excessive force against unarmed demonstrators."

March 3, 2021 - 7:19am

Britain has requested a new United Nations Security Council meeting on coup-hit Myanmar for Friday, diplomatic sources told AFP on Tuesday, as security forces have stepped up their use of violence against demonstrators in the Southeast Asian nation.

The meeting would be behind closed doors at 1500 GMT, according to London's proposal, the same sources said, as were the Council's discussions a day after the military's February 1 ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Security Council subsequently voiced "deep concern" over the coup, and called in a draft statement for the "release of all detainees" including Suu Kyi. —  AFP

March 2, 2021 - 4:38pm

A Myanmar reporter was arrested in his home by the military in a late-night raid, his employer said Tuesday, after days of crackdowns by the junta on anti-coup protesters. 

Myanmar's military has escalated force as it attempts to quell an uprising against its rule, deploying tear gas, rubber bullets and, increasingly, live rounds.

Journalists have found themselves targeted by police and soldiers as they try to capture the unrest on the streets. In recent days, several have been arrested, including an Associated Press photographer in Yangon. 

A Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reporter live-streamed his detention on Monday night, showing chaotic footage of loud bangs happening outside his apartment building in the southern city of Myeik. 

Hours later, DVB said on Twitter that the reporter, Kaung Myat Hlaing, had been taken from his home by security forces. — AFP

March 2, 2021 - 7:15am

Italy's foreign ministry says it had summoned Myanmar's ambassador to demand an end to the deadly crackdown on protests in the Southeast Asian nation.

Ambassador Hmway Hmway Khyne "was summoned today... to request that the military authorities immediately put an end to all violent repression of the democratic protests underway in the country," a statement says.

Italy repeats its condemnation of Myanmar's military coup last month and requested the immediate release of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all those arrested in connection with the coup. —  AFP

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