UN Human Rights Office says 18 killed in Myanmar crackdown

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Security forces in Myanmar opened fire and made mass arrests on Sunday as they tried to break up protests against the military’s takeover, and a UN human rights official said they had ” credible information “that 18 people died. and 30 were injured.

That would be the highest death toll in a single day among protesters demanding that the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi return to power after being overthrown in a coup on February 1.

“The deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pokokku,” the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement referring to several cities, adding that the forces also used tear gas. flash-bang grenades and stun grenades.

“We strongly condemn the escalation of violence against protests in Myanmar and call on the army to immediately stop the use of force against peaceful protesters,” said its spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

An Associated Press journalist was taken into police custody on Saturday morning while providing news coverage of the protests. The journalist, Thein Zaw, remains in police custody.

The Democratic Voice of Burma reported that as of 5 p.m. in Myanmar, there were 19 confirmed deaths in nine cities, with another 10 unconfirmed deaths. The independent media company broadcasts satellite and digital terrestrial television, as well as online.

DVB counted five deaths in Yangon and two in Mandalay, the largest cities and the second largest.

Five deaths were recorded in Dawei, a much smaller city in southeastern Myanmar that has seen tens of thousands of protesters almost every day since the coup. Witnesses said Sunday’s march was also big and that people were determined not to be driven off the streets.

Confirming the deaths of protesters has been difficult amid the chaos and a general lack of news from official sources, especially in areas outside of Yangon, Mandalay and the capital of Naypyitaw. But in many cases, the photos and videos that were circulated showed the circumstances of the murders and horrific photos of the bodies.

Shooting had previously been reported during protests in Yangon, as police also fired tear gas and water cannons while trying to clear the streets. Photos of live ammunition casings used in assault rifles were posted on social media.

Initial reports on social media identified a young man believed to have been murdered. His body was shown in photos and videos lying on a sidewalk until other protesters took it away.

In Dawei, local media reported that at least three people were killed during a protest march, backed by photos and videos. Photos on social media showed an injured man in the care of medical personnel.

Before Sunday, there were eight confirmed reports of killings related to the army’s takeover of power, according to the independent Political Prisoner Assistance Association.

The February 1 coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but the army prevented Parliament from meeting and detained her and President Win Myint, as well as other senior members. of the Suu Kyi government.

On Sunday morning, medical students marched in Yangon near the Hledan Center intersection, which has become the rallying point for protesters who then head to other parts of the city.

Videos and photos showed protesters running as police charged at them and residents setting up makeshift barricades to slow their advance. Some protesters managed to throw tear gas canisters at the police. Nearby, residents pleaded with the police to release those they picked up on the street and put them into police trucks to be taken away. Dozens or more are believed to be detained.

“The world is watching the actions of the Myanmar military junta and will hold them accountable,” said Phil Robertson, New York-based deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch. “Live ammunition should not be used to control or disperse protests and deadly force can only be used to protect lives or prevent serious injury.”

Security forces began employing tougher tactics on Saturday, taking preventive action to break up the protests and making dozens, if not hundreds, of arrests. A larger number of soldiers also joined the police. Many of the detainees were taken to Insein Prison on the northern outskirts of Yangon, historically known for having political prisoners.

According to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, as of Saturday 854 people had been detained, charged or convicted at some point in connection with the coup, and 771 were detained or wanted for arrest. The group said that while it had documented 75 new arrests, it understood that hundreds of other people were also detained in Yangon and elsewhere on Saturday.


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