Several people were killed and many others injured Sunday when Myanmar police opened fire on people protesting against military rule.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military seized power on Feb. 1 with the democratically elected government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and many leaders within her party. The military has accused fraud in the November election. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in that election.
The coup halted Myanmar’s tentative turn toward democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule. The coup led to thousands of people taking to the streets to protest and demonstrate. Western countries have also condemned the military coup.
Charles Maung Bo, the first Catholic cardinal of the Buddhist-majority country, tweeted, “Burma is like a battlefield.”
Dazzling bullets and tear gas failed to disperse the crowd, and police opened fire in several locations in Yangon.
A man shot in the chest died after being taken to a hospital, said a doctor who asked not to be named.
Kyaw Min Htike, a political activist from the southern town of Dawei, told Reuters that police opened fire in the town, killing three people and wounding several others.
Online media outlet The Irrawaddy reported that one person was killed in Mandalay, Burma’s second largest city. Police have also cracked down there. A charity reported two deaths in the central town of Bago.
Residents and media in the northeastern towns of Lashio and Myeik also said there had been a police crackdown.
Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said last week that authorities were using minimal force in response to the protests.
However, at least five protesters were killed in the unrest. One police officer was killed, the military said.
The crackdown appears to indicate the military’s determination to exert power in the face of widespread resistance, not only on the streets but also in a wider context, such as civil servants, municipalities, the judiciary, Education, health institutions and the media.
Pictures released by the media showed several people being rescued after police opened fire in Yangon, leaving bloodstains on the sidewalks.
Witnesses said police also threw dazzling bombs, used tear gas and fired into the air. However, hundreds of protesters refused to back down by late afternoon.
Some marched, some gathered to sing and others set up roadblocks.
If they push us, I will rise up,” said Nyan Win Shein, who attended a protest in Yangon. If they attack us, we will defend. We will never fall to our knees in front of military boots.”
Police were out early in the day and moved quickly to disperse the crowd. They used dazzling bullets to disperse the teachers’ protest, in which a teacher named Tin New Yee died. Her daughter and colleagues told Reuters that the cause of death was probably a heart attack.
Police also threw dazzle bombs outside a medical school in another part of Yangon to disperse teachers and students wearing lab coats.
A group called the Whitecoat Alliance said more than 50 health care workers had been arrested.
Myanmar’s state-run MRTV television said more than 470 people were arrested Saturday after police launched a nationwide crackdown.
It was not immediately clear how many people were arrested on Sunday.
Youth activist Esther Ze Naw said earlier that people were wrestling with the fear caused by the fact that they had lived under military rule for so long.
“It is clear that they are instilling fear in us by making us run and hide,” she said.
Esther Ze Naw said, “We can’t accept that.”
Police began to act after state television announced that Myanmar’s envoy to the United Nations had been fired for betraying the country. Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun urged the UN to use “all necessary means” to reverse the coup.
State television reports that Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun was fired, but he is still fighting. “I will do everything possible to fight,” he told Reuters in New York.
Despite Western condemnation of the coup and limited sanctions imposed by some countries, the generals have traditionally ignored diplomatic pressure. They have promised to hold a new election but have not set a date.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s party and supporters say the results of the November election must be accepted.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, has been under house arrest for nearly 15 years under military rule. She is charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkies and violating natural disaster laws for violating the New Crown virus protocol.
She is scheduled to appear in court Monday.