UN: At least 149 killed in Myanmar coup, hundreds unaccounted for

A large number of Burmese military and police officers block streets and stand guard in Yangon on March 14.

The United Nations on March 16 condemned a coup by the Burmese military that killed at least 149 people and left hundreds unaccounted for, and said detained protesters could face torture. Since the coup by the Burmese military in early February, Burmese protesters have become increasingly anti-China and have questioned the Chinese Communist Party‘s funding of the Burmese army.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the UN human rights office, said the death toll in Myanmar has skyrocketed in the past week and security forces have continued and intensified their use of lethal weapons against peaceful protesters, AFP reported on 16 February.

The UN human rights office confirmed that at least 149 people have been killed in the crackdown on protests since Feb. 1, including 18 on March 13, 39 on March 14 and 11 on March 15.

Shamdasani stressed that the actual number must be higher. She added that security forces continue to arbitrarily arrest and detain people in various locations, and that at least 2,084 people have been arrested. Reports of torture in detention are also deeply troubling.

The agency also determined that “at least five people have died in custody in recent weeks, and the remains of at least two show signs of physical abuse, indicating that they were tortured.” The whereabouts of hundreds of other illegally detained people are unknown, and the military’s failure to acknowledge their capture “amounts to an enforced disappearance.

At least 22 anti-coup demonstrators were killed by security forces in Hlaingthaya district of Yangon, Burma’s largest city, and at least 39 others in other areas on Feb. 14, the bloodiest day since the Feb. 1 military coup, according to the Burma Association for Political Prisoners.

Human rights group Political Prisoners Assistance Association (PPA) said the death toll so far exceeds 180, including 74 on the 14th.

UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener issued a statement on March 15, strongly condemning the military’s bloody crackdown and calling on the international community to unite in support of the Burmese people.

On March 15, Burmese netizens started the hashtag “#ChineseEmbassyGetOutOfBurma” on social media platforms and tweeted angrily that at least 70 heroes died in the brutal crackdown on March 14. But the Chinese Embassy in Burma issued a statement on protecting its investments, ignoring the deaths of Burmese. “We don’t want such neighbors.”

People also broke into a number of Chinese-owned factories in Yangon’s Hlaing Thar Ya industrial zone in retaliation that day, leaving many injured and trapped.

A Taiwanese businessman told the Central News Agency that due to the massive staff strike, Myanmar’s Gold flow logistics all shut down, the company not only suffered heavy losses, and now “even the Life of the Family is in question”, so I feel very helpless.

The Taiwanese businessman also said that Burma is almost in a state of anarchy, and that Burmese people are now deeply disgusted with the Chinese Communist Party.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, South Korea has invested in about 130 sewing factories in Myanmar. To avoid being mistaken for Chinese capital, the South Korean Association in Myanmar suggested that the Korean factories hang out the taiji flag, and has urgently distributed the taiji flag to the factories.

It was reported that more than a dozen Chinese-invested enterprises or Chinese-Myanmar joint ventures in several industrial zones in Yangon were hit by arson and vandalism between the afternoon and evening of the 14th. Some Chinese in the textile industry in Myanmar say that more than 20 enterprises are known to have been victimized, and the situation continues to spread and worsen.

In recent years, investment in Myanmar has skyrocketed under the Communist Party’s “Belt and Road” program, and in 2017, the $1.5 billion, 770-kilometer China-Myanmar Crude Oil pipeline was put into operation.

According to Myanmar media, some people said they wanted to “blow up the Chinese oil and gas pipeline”! and tell Chinese companies to leave Myanmar.

One user tweeted, “China (altogether), if you still think what is currently happening in Myanmar is an internal affair, then blowing up the gas pipeline that runs through Myanmar is an internal affair for us too.”