Myanmar forces again use force against protesters

Published March 7, 2021
YANGON: Protesters react as they are engulfed by tear gas fired by police during a demonstration on Saturday. — AFP
YANGON: Protesters react as they are engulfed by tear gas fired by police during a demonstration on Saturday. — AFP

YANGON: Security forces in Myanmar again used force on Saturday to disperse anti-coup protesters, a day after a UN special envoy urged the Security Council to take action to quell junta violence that this past week left more than 50 peaceful demonstrators dead and scores injured.

Protests were reported on Saturday morning in the country’s biggest city, Yangon, where stun grenades and tear gas were used against demonstrators.

Protests also took place in several other cities, including Mandalay, the second-biggest city, Myitkyina, the capital of the northern state of Kachin, Myeik in the far south, where police fired tear gas at students, and Dawei in the southeast, where tear gas was also used.

Demonstrators in the city of Monywa poured cans of beer over their feet and those of passers-by to show their contempt for the brewery’s owners, the military. Myanmar Beer is one of a number of business concerns in the country that are linked to the generals and has seen its sales plummet in the weeks following the coup. It has also lost its Japanese partner, Kirin, which announced it was pulling out of the joint venture as a result of the power grab.

Officials are believed to have exhumed the body of a young woman who was killed during Wednesday’s suppression of protests in Mandalay. The woman, Kyal Sin, had been photographed taking part in the protests before her death, and images of her on the front lines have made her a high-profile martyr.

Security forces on Friday night sealed off the cemetery where she was buried, and when residents visited in the morning, her grave was freshly plastered over and shovels and other evidence of digging were found at the site. There was no official explanation of the incident, but media close to the military had earlier reported that the authorities had questioned the conclusion that she had been shot dead by police, and intended to investigate.

The escalation of violence has put pressure on the world community to act to restrain the junta, which seized power on Feb 1 by ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The coup reversed years of slow progress towards democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2021

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