Burma — Protesters Riot, Two Killed, Disbelieve Army’s Promise to Hold Elections

  • There has been sporadic violence and, on Friday, the first demonstrator shot by the police died after ten days in intensive care.
  • Several observers have repeatedly feared a violent crackdown on protests, as the military has done on other occasions during its nearly 50 years in power.
  • The February 1 coup marked the end of a process, begun in 2011, of transition to civilian power.

The crackdown on a demonstration in Burma’s second largest city, Mandalay, left two dead. For two weeks, protesters in various parts of the country have protested the military coup that overthrew the de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and are calling for her return to power.

A wounded man is carried by rescue workers after protests against the military coup, in Mandalay, Myanmar, February 20, 2021

Protesters do not believe in the Army’s promise to hold elections soon – the alleged reason for the coup is that there was fraud in the November elections, which gave Suu Kyi’s absolute majority.

There has been sporadic violence and, on Friday, the first demonstrator shot by the police died after ten days in intensive care.

Several observers have repeatedly feared a violent crackdown on protests, as the military has done on other occasions during its nearly 50 years in power. The February 1 coup marked the end of a process, begun in 2011, of transition to civilian power.

In Mandalay, the demonstration also included workers from the port’s shipyards, who joined the civil disobedience campaign that seeks to paralyze key functions in the country.

Reuters reported that some protesters launched catapult projectiles at the police as they fled the streets along the river. The police responded with tear gas and gunfire, and it was unclear whether it was rubber bullets or live ammunition.

“Two people were killed,” said Hlaing Min Oo, the chief of a Mandalay-based volunteer emergency rescue team, adding that one of the victims, who was shot in the head, was a teenager.

The protests show no signs of slowing down, even after the army moved tanks to the streets and threatened prison sentences for those who hinder military action, and they seem to bring together increasingly diverse groups: Buddhist monks , celebrities, teachers and students , and workers from different sectors, from railways to banks.

Huge crowds in Myanmar undeterred by worst day of violence.

The military also detained hundreds of people: 546, of whom 46 have since been released, according to the Association for Political Prisoners.

This Saturday there were several tributes to the first demonstrator who died, Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who had just turned 20 while in intensive care after being hit with a bullet in the head by a police officer , Amnesty International confirmed. after analyzing footage from the demonstration.

“The sadness from her death is one thingbut we‘ve also got courage to continue for her sake,” said student protester Khin Maw Maw Oo in Naypyitaw.

Local media reported more than a dozen people were arrested after the clash.

“They beat and shot my husband and others,” a resident told AFP in tears. “He was standing on the side and watching the protest but the soldiers took him away.”

Protesters are no longer calling for the release of Suu Kyi and the return of the elected government, but also for a change in the 2008 constitution that maintains an important position for the army even after it is no longer directly in power.

Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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