Sunday, 28 February, 2021

Two killed in Myanmar city of Mandalay in another day of protests

Demonstrators protest the death of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing in Mandalay last week Demonstrators protest the death of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing in Mandalay last week
Cary Erickson | 20 February, 2021, 15:39

The 20-year-old woman protester who was shot in the head during anti-military protests in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw has died, the hospital said on Friday.

Police in Yangon sealed off the city's main protest site near the Sule Pagoda, setting up barricades on access roads to an intersection where tens of thousands have gathered this week.

Several other serious injuries were also reported.

A young protester died Friday, more than a week after being shot in anti-coup demonstrations in Myanmar, offering a fresh source of anger inside the country as global pressure grows on the generals who seized power.

Clashes have taken place between security officers and protesters, and the military has also blocked the internet in a bid to stifle dissent.

Among those arrested are railway workers, civil servants and bank staff who have walked off their jobs as part of a civil disobedience campaign aimed at crippling the army's ability to govern.

An impromptu memorial created under an elevated roadway in Yangon attracted around 1,000 protesters.

The young protester, a grocery store worker, is the first official death from the anti-coup movement since hundreds of thousands started gathering across the country two weeks ago to protest Myanmar's return to military rule.

Ms Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, 20, had been on life support since being taken to hospital on Feb 9, after she was hit by what doctors said was a live bullet at a protest in the capital, Naypyitaw.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price offered his government's condolences on Friday and reiterated calls on the military to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters.

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"I feel really sad and have nothing to say", said her brother Ye Htut Aung.

In Mandalay on Saturday, a protest led by medical university students drew more than 1,000 people, many of whom also carried flowers and images of Mya Thwet Thwet Khine.

Across the country, protests showed no signs of slowing down despite recent crackdowns by the military government - including a sixth consecutive night in which the internet was cut for many hours.

News of her death came as police and soldiers arrested about 50 people in the northern town of Myitkyina, after breaking up a procession carrying banners of detained government leader Aung San Suu Kyi. "We will fight for democracy".

Security forces have been relatively restrained so far in confronting protesters in Yangon, but appeared to be toughening their stance in areas where there is less media presence.

Security forces have responded with increasing force, deploying troops against peaceful rallies and firing tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets. The Kachin ethnic minority has always been in conflict with the central government, and there has been intermittent armed struggle against the army there for decades.

Protesters have called for the recognition of last year's election results as well as the release of Ms Suu Kyi and other detainees. Demonstrators are sceptical of the army's promise to hold a new election and hand power to the victor.

The US on Friday urged Myanmar's military to refrain from violence and relinquish power after the first death in protests against the coup. They have also called for the scrapping of a 2008 constitution that has assured the army a major role in politics since almost 50 years of direct military rule ended in 2011.

Suu Kyi come to power after her National League for Democracy party won a 2015 election, but the generals retained substantial power under the constitution, which was adopted under a military regime.