Protests in Myanmar: Crackdown on, 3 more killed | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 09, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:27 AM, March 09, 2021

Protests in Myanmar: Crackdown on, 3 more killed

Shops, factories, banks closed in Yangon

Three demonstrators were killed in Myanmar yesterday, witnesses said, while shops, factories and banks were closed in the main city Yangon in protests against last month's military coup.

Security forces were also deployed at hospitals and universities, state media said.

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Two of the victims died of gunshot wounds to the head in the northern town of Myitkyina, the witnesses said. It was not immediately clear who fired on the protesters although both police and the military were at the scene.

Photos posted on Facebook showed the bodies of two men lying on the street. Witnesses said they were taking part in a protest against the coup when police fired stun grenades and tear gas. Several people were then hit by gunfire from nearby buildings.

One witness, who said he helped move the bodies, told Reuters two people were shot in the head and died on the spot. Three people were wounded.

"How inhumane to kill unarmed civilians," said the witness, a 20-year-old man. "We must have our right to protest peacefully."

At least one person was killed and two injured during a protest in the town of Phyar Pon in the Irrawaddy Delta, a political activist and local media said.

Police and military have killed more than 50 people to quell the daily demonstrations and strikes against the February 1 coup, according to the United Nations.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls asking for comment on the latest incidents. Police in Myitkyina and Phyar Pon also did not respond to calls.

State television MRTV announced yesterday five media companies have been stripped of their licences.

The five independent companies were named as Mizzima, Myanmar Now, 7-Day, DVB and Khit Thit Media. All have been active in covering protests against the military coup.

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said yesterday that the detention of an Australian financial adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi had led to the discovery of secret financial information, according to MRTV television.

Australia has called for the release of Sean Turnell, who was detained on February 6, five days after the coup that led to the arrest of Suu Kyi herself.

"An attempt to flee the country by the former government's foreign economic adviser, Sean Turnell, was stopped in time and secret state financial information was found through him. Union-level ministers are taking legal actions in relation to that issue," MRTV quoted the junta leader as saying.

SARONG FLAGS

Demonstrators yesterday gathered in Yangon and in the second-biggest city Mandalay and several other towns, according to videos.

Protesters in Dawei, a coastal town in the south, were protected by the Karen National Union, an ethnic armed group engaged a long-running war with the military.

In some places, they waved flags fashioned from htamain (women's sarongs) or hung them up on lines across the street to mark International Women's Day while denouncing the junta. Walking beneath women's sarongs is traditionally considered bad luck for men.

Witnesses reported sounds of gunfire or stun grenades in many districts of Yangon on Sunday night as soldiers set up camp in hospitals and university compounds. It was not clear whether anyone was hurt.

"The army just started shooting," a businessman who lives near a Yangon hospital told Reuters. He said he was staying at home with his family. "We cannot go out, we cannot go to work, or even leave. We are not safe, but we cannot go out."

The international Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) organisation protested against the occupation of the hospitals, which it said was a violation of international law.

"This widespread siege of hospitals follows several days of prominent civilian injuries and casualties, and can be interpreted as a direct attempt to impede access to care for civilians. It is also a threat to attending medics to warn them against further treating injured protesters," the New York-based PHR said in a statement.

It also said security forces were conducting night raids in Yangon, including arbitrary arrests, shootings, and beatings.

In Sweden, H&M HMb.ST, the world's second-biggest fashion retailer, said it had paused placing orders with its direct suppliers in Myanmar.

H&M said it was shocked by the use of deadly force against protesters, but also that the unpredictable situation had caused difficulties in its manufacturing and transport operations.

So far, however, the military has brushed off international condemnation of its actions and is digging in to weather the crisis, as it has in past periods of army rule.

 

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