A young woman who was shot in the head last week by police during a demonstration against the Myanmar military coup died on Friday, her family said.
Among thousands of demonstrators who have faced off against security forces since the junta took power on Feb. 1, it was the first reported death to arrest the elected leaders of the country and keep Parliament from convening.
On Feb. 9, two days prior to her 20th birthday, Mya Thwet Thwet Khine was shot during a demonstration in the capital, Naypyitaw. The video showed her sheltering from water cannons and suddenly falling to the ground after the motorcycle helmet she wore was penetrated by a bullet. With what doctors said was no hope of survival, she was on life support in a hospital.
Speaking from the mortuary at the hospital, her sister urged people not to give up their fight to restore democracy.
“Please take part and continue fighting until we reach our goal,” Mya Thatoe Nwe said. The funeral will take place on Sunday, she said.
A sidewalk shrine with candles and images of the dead woman was set up by protesters in Mandalay, the country’s second largest city. At a remembrance ceremony at sunset at the site of a police dispersal of protesters with water cannons last week, about 200 people paid their respects.
(asterisk) Whoever can help, please help,’ cried Khin Wai, who attended the service. “Don’t harm other people, please. I’m so concerned, really worried.
Even before her death, in small ceremonies at many demonstrations, Mya Thwet Thwet Khine had already been hailed as a hero. In the protest movement, which has supported peaceful civil disobedience, news of her passing is likely to inflame passions.
US. U.S. Speaker of the State Department Ned Price offered the condolences of his government and repeated demands for the military to refrain from violence against peaceful demonstrators.
“As protests continue to grow, Myanmar security forces must cease carrying and using lethal weapons and respect the right of people to express their grievances peacefully,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s director of crisis response. “It is only a matter of time before more death and sorrow are brought about by the same brutal and abusive policing.”
A spokesman for the ruling army did not deny that security forces shot Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, but said at a news conference this week that she was in a crowd throwing rocks at the police and that the case was under investigation. No independent accounts were given of her taking part in some abuse.
In Yangon, the country’s largest city, and elsewhere, demonstrations continued Friday.
So far, security forces have been relatively restrained in confronting protesters in Yangon, but their position in areas where there is less media presence has appeared to be hardened.
In Myitkyina, the capital of the small northern state of Kachin, the police used force for a second day to arrest demonstrators. The ethnic minority of Kachin has long been in dispute with the central government, and for decades there has been an occasional armed struggle against the military there.
Several people were wounded by rubber bullets on Thursday night in the southeastern city of Dawei when police staged nighttime raids to try to arrest activists, local media reported. Wide yet peaceful protest marches have taken place in the area, with agreements to prevent confrontations between the demonstrators and the authorities.
Tom Andrews, The United Nations Autonomous This week, Myanmar’s human rights expert told The Associated Press that the initial police caution in dealing with “robust citizen opposition to the coup” has shifted to the use of rubber bullets, actual ammunition and water cannons in some cases.
Speaking from the United States, he also said that “hardened” troops were deployed to some cities from border areas, increasing the risk of bloodshed and “a tragic loss of life.”
After detaining national leader Aung San Suu Kyi and stopping Parliament from convening, the junta says it took power because voting irregularities tainted elections last November. The election result, in which the party of Suu Kyi won by a landslide, was confirmed by an electoral commission which has since been replaced by the army. The junta says that in a year’s time, it will hold new elections.
The governments of the United States, Britain and Canada have placed sanctions on the current military leaders, and they and other governments have called for the restoration of the Suu Kyi administration.
After 50 years of Army rule, the coup was a significant setback to Myanmar’s transition to democracy. After the 2015 election of her National League for Democracy faction, Suu Kyi came to power, but under the constitution, which was implemented under a military dictatorship, the generals retained considerable power.