At least four people were shot dead during protests in Myanmar on Sunday, as security forces continued their violent crackdown on dissent following last month’s military coup.
Two of the victims died in Yangon, the country’s largest city. One of them was shot in the head and another in the abdomen, according to local media covering the demonstrations in Hlaing Thar Yar municipality.
A third person was killed in the northern city of Hpakant when police fired at a crowd of protesters, local media reported. A fourth victim, a woman, died after being shot in the head in Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, while security forces carried out clean-up operations.
In Yangon, a video posted on social media showed crowds of people, some wearing helmets and gas masks, running down a street amid gunfire. Protesters quickly sprayed steam from fire extinguishers as they retreated.
The use of fire extinguishers, now common in protests across Myanmar, is aimed at smothering tear gas and also creating a vapor screen that makes it difficult for police to chase or shoot protesters.
There were also reports of injuries from live ammunition and rubber bullets in other parts of Yangon, including Insein District, where clouds of black smoke could be seen after security forces reportedly set checkpoints on fire. of road.
On Saturday, the civilian leader of the Myanmar government in hiding vowed to continue supporting a “revolution” to overthrow the military leaders who seized power in the February 1 coup. Mahn Win Khaing Than, who was appointed interim vice president by ousted Myanmar lawmakers and is a member of the political party of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, addressed the public for the first time since the coup.
“This is the darkest time in the nation and the time when dawn is approaching,” he said in a video posted on the shadow government’s website and social media.
“To form a federal democracy, which all the ethnic brothers who have been suffering various types of oppressions from the dictatorship for decades really wanted, this revolution is the opportunity for us to unite our efforts,” he said.
He added: “We will never surrender to an unjust army, but let’s shape our future together with our united power. Our mission must be fulfilled. “
At the end of the message, he displayed the three-finger salute that has become a symbol of resistance to military rulers.
Also on Saturday, security forces again opened fire on protesters, killing four in Mandalay, two in Pyay in south-central Myanmar and one in Twante, a suburb of Yangon. Details of the seven deaths were posted on multiple social media accounts, some accompanied by photos of the victims.
The actual death toll is likely to be higher, as police apparently seized some bodies and some of the victims suffered severe gunshot wounds that doctors and nurses working in makeshift clinics would be difficult to deal with. Many hospitals are occupied by the security forces, and as a result, they are boycotted by medical personnel and rejected by protesters.
The UN’s independent human rights expert for Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said last week that credible reports indicated that at least 70 people had died so far, citing mounting evidence of crimes against humanity committed by the military.
Other unofficial but carefully compiled accounts put the death toll since the coup at around 90.
Saturday’s killings did not disturb protesters in Yangon who packed into a downtown shopping area after the official 8 pm curfew to hold a mass candlelight vigil and sing about their cause. The mostly young protesters demonstrated at an intersection where they usually gather for protests during the day.
Nighttime demonstrations were also held in Mandalay and elsewhere.
Nighttime protests may reflect a more aggressive approach to self-defense that has been advocated by some protesters. Police have been aggressively patrolling residential neighborhoods at night, firing into the air and throwing stun grenades as part of the intimidation.
They have also conducted targeted raids, removing people from their homes with minimal resistance. In at least two known cases, detainees died in custody within hours of being taken away.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism