Myanmar protests: ‘At least 34 killed’ by security forces in deadliest day of demonstrations since coup

Security forces escalate crackdown on protesters as international community mulls sanctions

Kate Ng
Thursday 04 March 2021 01:36 GMT
APTOPIX Myanmar (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

At least 34 people have been killed in clashes between Myanmar security forces and protesters against last month’s coup, marking the highest daily death toll since demonstrations began.

The number of dead on Wednesday - which exceeds the 18 that the UN Human Rights Office said were killed on Sunday - was compiled using local news reports and accounts on social media by a data analyst who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Videos showed security forces firing slingshots at demonstrators, chasing them down and even beating an ambulance crew.

Cities across Myanmar have seen demonstrators on the streets since the coup on 1 February, which saw elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi ousted from government.

The number of protesters taking to the streets have remained high even as security forces have mounted a crackdown on demonstrations, repeatedly firing tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds to disperse crowds, while protesters have been arrested en masse.

According to the data analyst’s figures, the highest number of killings occurred in Yangon with a total of 18. Eight deaths were reported in the central city of Monywa, three in Mandalay, and two in Salin, a town in the Magwe region in central Myanmar.

In Mawlamyine, in the southeast of the country, and Myingyan and Kalay, central Myanmar, there was a single death recorded in each city.

Security forces have also arrested hundreds of people as part of its crackdown on the protests, including journalists. At least eight journalists were detained on Saturday, including Thein Zaw, a reporter for The Associated Press.

A US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, has said the US was “appalled” by the violent crackdown, and called on Myanmar authorities to release Mr Thein and other members of the media who have been detained and charged with violating a public order law.

The US, Britain, Canada, and the EU are considering imposing sanctions on Myanmar. But according to Christine Schraner Burgener, UN special envoy on Myanmar, the military responded by saying: “We are used to sanctions and we survived.”

Ms Schraner Burgener urged countries to “take very strong measures” to restore democracy in Myanmar.

She also told reporters on Wednesday that she believes the military is “very surprised” by the protests, adding: “Today we have young people who lived in freedom for 10 years, they have social media, and they are well organised and very determined. They don’t want to go back in a dictatorship and in isolation.”

Other reports of violence include a widely-circulated video taken from a security camera, which shows police in Yangon brutally beating members of an ambulance crew - apparently after they were arrested.

Security forces are believed to single out medical workers for arrest and mistreatment because members of the medical profession launched the country’s civil disobedience movement to resist the junta.

Elsewhere, in Mandalay, riot police and soldiers dispersed a rally and chased around 1,000 teachers and students from a street with tear gas. Footage from AP showed police firing slingshots in the apparent direction of the protesters as they dispersed.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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