The UK and the United Nations have condemned the killing of at least 39 people by Myanmar’s security forces in one of the deadliest days since last month’s coup as “gruesome” and “heartbreaking”.
Sunday’s violence brings the number of people killed in mass protests since the military seized power from civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to about 100, although activists and human rights groups believe it could be higher.
The highest death toll on Sunday was recorded during protests in two industrial municipalities in Yangon, Hlaing Tharyar and Shwepyitha, where clothing factories were burned. At least 22 anti-coup protesters had been killed, according to an advocacy group.
Myanmar’s state media reported Sunday night that the municipalities would be placed under martial law. It comes after the Chinese embassy complained that Chinese-owned factories were among the burning buildings and condemned the actions of the “destroyers.” He did not comment on the killings.
The latest violence occurred the day before Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in court in Yangon. The Nobel laureate faces at least four charges: possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, violating telecommunications laws, and intent to cause public disturbances.
His lawyer Khin Maung Zaw, who has not yet been allowed to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, told Agence France-Presse about Sunday’s violence: “The ruling junta has shown its teeth and removed its mask. .. they are showing their true self. “
British Ambassador Dan Chugg saying Sunday night he was “dismayed by the use of lethal force by security forces against innocent people” and called for the junta to return democratically elected civilian leaders to power.
UN Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener said in the statement that she had heard “heartbreaking accounts of killings, ill-treatment of protesters and torture of prisoners ”from contacts in Myanmar over the weekend.
Strongly condemning the bloodshed, he said that the international community, “including regional actors, must unite in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations.”
UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said outrage over Sunday’s murders and asked countries to stop supplying cash and weapons to the junta.
The junta has repeatedly justified its takeover by alleging widespread electoral fraud in the November elections, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party overwhelmingly won.
Announcing martial law in parts of Yangon, a state television announcer said: the board “grants the administrative and judicial power of martial law to the Yangon regional commander … to carry out security, maintain the state of law and peace of mind more effectively. “
In recent weeks, soldiers and police have been cracking down almost daily against protesters calling for a return to democracy, using tear gas and firing rubber bullets and live ammunition to quell anti-coup protests.
In Hlaing Tharyar Township, police and soldiers clashed violently with stick and knife-wielding protesters fleeing for protection behind makeshift barricades.
Protesters using clipped garbage cans as shields managed to rescue some injured protesters when security forces opened fire, but a doctor said they could not all be reached.
“I can confirm that 15 have died,” the doctor told AFP, adding that they had treated about 50 people and expected the death toll to rise.
The vigilance group of the Association for the Assistance to Political Prisoners, which verifies arrests and deaths since the coup, recorded the highest death toll.
Residents hiding in their homes heard gunshots continuously throughout the day, as military trucks were seen driving through smoke-filled streets.
Despite the bloodshed, members of the anti-coup movement remain defiant.
“I have seen fallen heroes give their lives,” said 21-year-old Ma Khine Lay, admitting she was scared as she rebuilt brick and bamboo barricades in a Yangon township. “I will fight until the end”.
With Agence France-Presse
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism