(Reuters) – Myanmar troops fired on anti-coup protesters on Wednesday, killing at least seven people and wounding several, media said, when a Chinese-owned factory was set ablaze in the commercial capital of Yangon and activists burned down the street. Chinese flag.
The country’s military ruler said the civil disobedience movement was “destroying” Myanmar.
More than 580 people have been killed, according to a group of activists, in the unrest in Myanmar since the February 1 coup that ended a brief period of civilian-led democracy. Protests and strikes across the country have persisted ever since despite the use of deadly force by the military to quell the opposition.
Security forces opened fire on protesters in the northwestern city of Kale on Wednesday as they demanded the restoration of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian rule, a resident told Reuters.
The media cited witnesses who said there were victims and repeated shootings. Media Mizzima and Irrawaddy said five people died and several were injured.
The Kale resident said the information was provided to him by witnesses, who took photographs of five bodies.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the number of victims.
Two protesters were killed in the city of Bago, near Yangon, the Myanmar Now news outlet said.
On Wednesday, a fire broke out at the Chinese-owned JOC Garment Factory in Yangon, news reports and the Fire Department said. There were no reports of victims or details on the extent of the damage.
In another Yangon neighborhood, activists set the Chinese flag on fire, according to images posted on Facebook.
China is seen as supporting the military junta and last month there were arson attacks on 32 Chinese-invested factories in Yangon.
Major General Min Aung Hlaing, head of the board, said in a statement released on Wednesday that the civil disobedience movement or CDM had halted the operation of hospitals, schools, roads, offices and factories.
“Although the protests take place in neighboring countries and the international community, they do not destroy businesses,” he said. “The CDM is an activity to destroy the country.”
According to the advocacy group the Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), 581 people, including dozens of children, have been shot dead by troops and police in almost daily riots since the coup, and security forces have arrested about 3,500 people, of which 2,750 still continue. stopped.
BOARD ‘LOSING CONTROL’
The ability of the mostly youth-led anti-coup movement to campaign and share information via social media and instant messaging has been severely hampered by restrictions on wireless broadband internet and mobile data services. .
Fixed line services are available, to which few in Myanmar have access.
“Myanmar has been subject to a gradual collapse into the information abyss since February,” Alp Toker, founder of Internet blocking observatory NetBlocks, told Reuters.
“Communications are now very limited and only available to a few.”
With the print media also at a standstill, protesters have sought solutions to get their message across, producing their own A4-size daily news brochures that are digitally shared and printed for distribution to the public.
Arrest warrants have been issued for hundreds of people, and the board this week hunted down dozens of influencers, entertainers, artists and musicians.
The country’s most famous comedian, Zarganar, was arrested on Tuesday, media reported.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab discussed how Britain and the international community could support a Southeast Asian effort to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said after meeting with his counterpart. Briton in Jakarta.
Indonesia is among several Southeast Asian countries leading a push for high-level talks on Myanmar.
Western countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia, have imposed or toughened sanctions on generals and the army’s huge network of commercial monopolies in response to the coup, arrests and the use of deadly force against protesters.
The European Union is expected to do the same.
Russia, which has shown its support for Myanmar’s ruling military council, said on Tuesday the West risked unleashing a civil war by imposing sanctions on the junta.
Fitch Solutions said in a report Wednesday that Western sanctions alone are unlikely to restore democracy. He predicted in the medium term a violent revolution that will pit the military against an armed opposition made up of members of the anti-coup movement and ethnic militias.
Some ethnic minority forces, which control large swaths of border regions, have said they cannot stand by while the junta kills people and have already engaged the military in skirmishes.
Fitch said Myanmar was on the way to becoming a failed state.
“The escalation of violence against civilians and ethnic militias shows that the Tatmadaw (the army) is increasingly losing control of the country,” he said, adding that the vast majority of the people supported the overthrown Suu Kyi government.
Reuters staff report; Additional reporting from Poppy McPherson in Bangkok and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Written by Martin Petty and Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel and Simon Cameron-Moore