Thursday, August 5

Protest in Myanmar: Martial Law Enforced in Parts of Yangon as Deaths Rise

Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in parts of the country’s largest city, Yangon, as security forces killed more protesters in an increasingly deadly crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup.

At least 38 people died Sunday and dozens were injured in one of the deadliest days of the crackdown, according to the Political Prisoners Assistance Association, an independent group that tracks the number of victims of violence.

Most of the dead were in Yangon, where two municipalities, Hlaing Thar Yar and neighboring Shwepyitha, were under martial law.

A video from Hlaing Thar Yar Township showed people fleeing after shots were heard.

Hlaing Thar Yar was the place where 22 civilians died on Sunday, according to the aid group, which said more than a dozen civilians were injured and described a large number of junta forces involved in the municipality.

Since taking office six weeks ago, Myanmar has been under a nationwide state of emergency, with its civilian leaders overthrown and detained and military leaders in charge of the entire government.

But the announcement on state broadcaster MRTV on Sunday night appeared to be the first use of the term “martial law” since the coup and suggested more direct military control of security, rather than local police.

The announcement said that the State Administrative Council acted to improve security and restore law and order, adding that the Yangon regional commander has been entrusted with administrative, judicial and military powers in the area under his command.

Four deaths were reported outside of Yangon in Bago, Mandalay and the northern city of Hpakant in Kachin state, according to the aid group and local media.

A video posted on social media believed to have been filmed in Yangon 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, a widely used tactic to douse tear gas and create 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.

In a new tactic, anti-coup protesters used the cloak of darkness to hold mass candlelight vigils on Saturday and Sunday nights in a commercial area of ​​Yangon that used to be the scene of their daytime protests. Nighttime demonstrations were also held in Mandalay and elsewhere.

The protest movement has been based on non-violent civil disobedience from the beginning, with marches and general strikes among its main characteristics.

However, some protesters have advocated for stronger and more nimble self-defense methods, such as holding small rallies that quickly dissolve and gather, as well as creating a wavy coverage of fire extinguishers and laundry.

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