Activists called for more protests against the coup in Myanmar on Saturday, the anniversary of the death of a student whose murder in 1988 sparked numerous protests against the government and led to the emergence of Aung San Suu Kyi as an icon of democracy.
The appeals came following a nighttime crackdown by security forces that left at least three dead and several injured in two townships in Yangon.
In Thaketa Township, two people were confirmed dead in a pre-dawn crackdown on Saturday, while in Hlaing Township, one person was shot in the head and later died, while in at least three others were injured.
Several people were also reportedly arrested or beaten by authorities on Friday evening, following a candlelight vigil across the country for killed protesters.
Early Saturday morning, military and police forces also converged on the Insein railway compound, in what activists described on social media as a “siege.”
A video posted on social media also showed several protesters trying to help a seriously injured person, who was shot dead on Saturday morning in Pyay township, Bago region.
– Wa Lone (@ walone4) March 13, 2021
Another video showed suspected thefts of private motorcycles by security forces, which also allegedly crashed civilian vehicles at the Thukha Myaing residential complex in Yangon.
An image that also went viral on social media and ignited anger showed an officer grabbing and beating what appeared to be a young boy in Mandalay on Friday.
Posters spread on social media on Saturday calling for people to take to the streets to protest against the military government and to mark the anniversary of the death of Phone Maw, who was shot dead by security forces in 1988 in it. which was then known as the Rangoon Institute of Technology campus.
His shooting and that of another student who died weeks later sparked widespread protests against the military government known as the 8-8-88 campaign, as they peaked in August of that year. An estimated 3,000 people were killed when the army crushed the uprising.
Responding to the call, dozens of Buddhist monks and nuns from Sitagu International Buddhist University in Sagaing County in Yangon marched peacefully on Saturday morning.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been caught up and under house arrest for nearly two decades. She was released in 2008 when the military began democratic reforms and her National League for Democracy won elections in 2015 and again in November last year.
On February 1 of this year, the generals overthrew his government and detained Aung San Suu Kyi and many of his cabinet colleagues, alleging fraud in the November elections.
More than 70 people have been killed in the Southeast Asian country in widespread protests since then, the advocacy group of the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP) said.
On Friday, a day after 12 people were killed in one of the bloodiest days since the coup, the former British colonial power warned its citizens of Myanmar to leave, saying “tensions and political unrest has become widespread since the military takeover and levels of violence are increasing ”.
Test for Biden
The coup in Myanmar, where the military has close ties to China, is a first major test for new US President Joe Biden.
His administration reported on Friday a virtual meeting with leaders of India, Japan and Australia, the first official summit of a group known as Quad, in an attempt to demonstrate a renewed commitment by the United States to regional security.
“As long-time supporters of Myanmar and its people, we stress the urgent need to restore democracy and the priority of building democratic resilience,” the four leaders said in a statement issued by the White House.
A military government spokesperson did not respond to Reuters phone calls seeking comment.
UN human rights investigator Thomas Andrews on Friday dismissed “absurd” comments by a senior Myanmar official that authorities were “taking the utmost restraint.”
Addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, he called for a united approach to “eliminate the junta’s sense of impunity”.
South Korea announced on Friday that it would suspend defense exchanges and reconsider development aid to Myanmar due to the violence.
The Kremlin said Russia, which has close ties to the Burmese military, is concerned about the escalation of violence and “is analyzing” the possibility of suspending military-technical cooperation.
“We assess the situation as alarming and we are concerned about reports of the increasing number of civilian casualties from there,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said as quoted by the TASS news agency.
Earlier this week, the UN Security Council removed wording from a statement condemning the military takeover as a coup and threatening possible further action due to opposition from China, Russia, India and Vietnam.