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Myanmar’s deadly violence has returned after peaceful demonstrations.



Myanmar's deadly violence has returned after peaceful demonstrations.
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Myanmar's deadly violence has returned after peaceful demonstrations.

Myanmar’s deadly violence has returned after peaceful demonstrations.


Following a morning of peaceful marches, Myanmar security forces shot and killed at least two people protesting last month’s military coup.

Hundreds of countrymen have been killed by security forces in recent days, with the UN putting the death toll at 149 since the Feb. 1 coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government.

Since the coup, 183 people have been killed, according to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Violence erupted in Myanmar’s largest district, Yangon, on Tuesday, with the highest number of casualties. Rubber bullets were fired by police in several neighbourhoods, killing one man. In the northwestern Sagaing Region’s Kawlin district, another killing has been confirmed.

According to Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 11 people were killed on Monday, bringing the total number of deaths to 57 over the weekend. It was unable to corroborate several further accounts of killings, despite the fact that there were many more.

“The killing of protestors, illegal arrests, and reports of prisoner torture are all violations of fundamental human rights, and they go against the Security Council’s demands for restraint, dialogue, and a return to Myanmar’s democratic path,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The coup put an end to years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which had been under strict military rule for five decades, leading to international isolation and sanctions.

Recently, protesters have used tactics to prevent aggressive confrontations. According to social media posts, candlelight marches were held in Mawlamyaing, Mon State in southeastern Myanmar, before sunrise on Tuesday.

Another technique has been to use signboards in public areas as proxies for human demonstrators. A group of engineers in central Myanmar’s second-largest city, Mandalay, is said to have used this tactic.

More traditional peaceful demonstrations, such as those that have been taking place every day, took place without incident Tuesday in Monywa and Ye-U in central Myanmar, Loikaw in the eastern state of Kayaw, and Kalaw in the southern Shan State, all in the east.

Cellphone internet service was cut Sunday night, complicating attempts to organize new protests as well as media attention, though fixed broadband connections remained open.

The mobile data service has been used to broadcast live video coverage of demonstrations, with security forces regularly targeting protesters. For some weeks, it had been switched off only from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m., with no official statement.

The violence in Yangon on Sunday, which was almost entirely carried out by police, resulted in the highest single-day death toll since the coup. In a large part of the capital, Myanmar’s governing junta proclaimed martial law.

The junta, officially known as the State Administrative Council, acted to improve stability and restore law and order, according to the martial law announcements, and the Yangon regional commander has been entrusted with administrative, judicial, and military powers in the area under his rule. Six of Yangon’s 33 townships are covered by the orders.

The most deaths and violence were recorded in Yangon’s Hlaing Thar Yar township, an industrial area with many factories that supply Myanmar’s garment industry, which is a big export earner. Unknown parties set fire to many factories, several of which are Chinese-owned, causing Beijing’s wrath.

Thousands of residents of the township traveled out of the area Tuesday in cars, taxis, pickup trucks, bikes, and on foot. Some were looking for a safe haven, while others had lost their jobs.

Protesters have taken a more militant approach to self-defense in the last week in response to increased police brutality, burning tires at barricades and fighting back against attacks where they can.

The Committee Representing Pyihtaungsu Hluttaw, which is made up of elected members of Parliament who have been denied access to their seats, said on Sunday that the general public has the legal right to self-defense against security forces.

The CRPH has formed itself as a shadow government that claims to be Myanmar’s sole legitimate representative body, operating underground within the country and with members abroad. The junta has called it an illegitimate treasonous body.

Dr. Sasa, a key figure in the CRPH, was charged with high treason, which carries a death penalty, according to state television MRTV on Tuesday evening.

Sasa, a Chin ethnic minority medical doctor who was named a special United Nations envoy by the CRPH, is accused of inciting internal strife and acting against the junta, which claims to be the sole legitimate governing body after ousting an elected government.

“Treason against the junta means that I am standing with the people of Myanmar, giving my life for their independence, federal democracy, and justice,” Sasa said, adding that he was proud to be charged with treason.

His statement, which was posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday, detailed the Myanmar military’s long history of atrocities against ethnic minorities and the repression of previous protest movements, as well as the killings of civilians following last month’s coup.

“Every day, it is these Generals who commit acts of treason. Taking what they want for themselves, depriving people of their rights, and oppressing those who oppose them,” Sasa explained.

Despite the fact that he is currently in hiding, Sasa is the foreign face of Myanmar’s resistance. He’s done a lot of video conferencing with foreign media. He’s also used video to communicate with foreign ambassadors, United Nations leaders, and other junta critics, including ethnic minorities with their own guerrilla armies.

According to Myanmar’s state-owned Global New Light newspaper, junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing told colleagues that the demonstrations have devolved into “riots and crime.”

Min Aung Hlaing, speaking at a junta meeting in the capital, Naypyitaw, on Monday, said the military was assisting police “as rearguards in required places to overcome the difficulties and obstacles.”

“Although there have been less riots, violent actions such as the burning of public property and factories have occurred in some places. As a result, security forces had to deal with the situation aggressively,” according to the study. “Protesters destroyed warehouses and raided police stations and administrative offices. Meanwhile, the shooting was used to disperse the demonstrators, resulting in the deaths of some security personnel and protesters.”

Almost all credible sources attribute the brutality against unarmed demonstrators to security forces.

Many demonstrators have called for international intervention to help them, citing the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, which was established to deal with genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.

The United Nations and other regional bodies and nations have called for action to bring demonstrators and military together and put an end to the conflict. Several Western countries have imposed sanctions on the generals and their business associates, but the junta is confident that it can withstand the pressure, particularly with China as a diplomatic ally who can block concerted UN action and make up for aid and investment shortfalls.

In Tokyo for talks with Japanese officials, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US wants to foster democratic values in Myanmar, as it does elsewhere.

“We believe in democracy, human rights, and the rule of law because we’ve seen how they’ve improved our own nations, because we hold those principles dear, and because they’re under attack in many areas, including this region,” he said. “The military in Burma is attempting to reverse democratic election results and violently suppressing peaceful protests.” Myanmar is referred to in the United States by its old name, Burma, which was modified by a former military regime.

Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s foreign minister, said after his bilateral meeting with Blinken that they shared “serious concern” about the situation in Myanmar, especially the attacks on peaceful protests.

“There have been civilian casualties, and we are very concerned about this,” he said, adding that they demand Myanmar release Suu Kyi immediately and restore a democratic structure.

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