Military ‘opens fire on mourners’ at funeral for Myanmar protester killed in deadly crackdown

Demonstrations continue the day after 114 people shot dead by security forces

Peter Stubley
Sunday 28 March 2021 23:53
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Protesters returned to the streets of Myanmar in defiance on the day after at least 114 people were killed in the deadliest military crackdown since the coup.

While mourners flocked to the funerals of the victims, including several children, demonstrators continued to demand a return to democracy in several cities across the country including Yangon and Mandalay.

A further nine people were killed on Sunday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, bringing the death toll to 459 since the military seized power on 1 February.

Witnesses reported that security forces opened fire on a crowd attending the funeral of 20-year-old student who was killed in the city of Bago on Saturday. Several people attending the ceremony for Thae Maung Maung were arrested, according to local website Myanmar Now, but there were no reports of casualties.

"I couldn't believe that they would crack down on a funeral service too," one woman present told Reuters.

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At another funeral in Yangon, mourners flashed the three-finger salute which symbolises resistance to the military coup as they wheeled the coffin of a 13-year-old boy who was shot dead by security forces on Saturday as he played outside his home.

Similar gestures of defiance were seen at the funeral for 36-year-old Shwe Myint, who was also shot dead in Bhamo in the northern state of Kachin on Saturday. According to the online news service Democratic Voice of Burma, the military had initially seized her body and refused to return it until her family signed a statement absolving them of blame.

In Yangon, a small group of demonstrators marched through a residential area without incident. Other photographs taken in the city on Sunday showed anti-coup protesters arming themselves with slingshots and Molotov cocktails as they crouched behind barricades.

Saturday's crackdown - which coincided with Myanmar's Armed Forces Day holiday - was met with international condemnation, including a joint statement from military leaders in 12 countries including the US and UK.

"We condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services,” said the defence chiefs.

They said the country’s military must “cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions.”

Mourners make the three-finger protest salute during a funeral procession for a demonstrator who was shot dead in Kawthaung in southern Myanmar

A man uses a slingshot during a protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sunday

The UN's independent expert on human rights for Myanmar, Tom Andrews, accused the military of "mass murder".

He said: "Today the junta of Myanmar has made Armed Forces Day a day of infamy with the massacre of men, women and very young children throughout country... It is past time for robust, coordinated action."

US president Joe Biden told reporters on Sunday that his administration was working on a response but gave no details.

He said that the situation in Myanmar was "absolutely outrageous", adding: "Based on the reporting I've gotten, an awful lot of people have been killed. Totally unnecessary."

While the UK, EU and US have imposed sanctions, the UN Security Council is unlikely to push for concerted action against the military junta given that both China and Russia would almost certainly use their veto. Both countries are major arms suppliers to the Myanmar's armed forces.

"UN Security Council member states' continued refusal to meaningfully act against this never-ending horror is contemptible," said Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International's deputy regional director for campaigns.

Additional reporting by agencies

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