Myanmar crackdown kills 18 protesters, more than 30 injured: UN human rights office

Sounds of gunshots could be heard and what appeared to be smoke grenades thrown into the crowd.

Myanmar security forces opened fire and carried out mass arrests on Sunday as they sought to halt protests against the military takeover, and a UN human rights official said said he had “credible information” that 18 people were killed and 30 injured.

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“Deaths have reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired at crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pokokku,” he said in a statement, referring to several towns in Myanmar. “Tear gas was also reportedly used in various locations, as well as flash-bang and stun grenades.”

“We strongly condemn the escalation of violence against protests in Myanmar and call on the military to immediately cease the use of force against peaceful protesters,” said spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

It would be the highest toll in a single day among protesters calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government to be restored to power after being ousted in a February 1 coup.

“Myanmar is like a battlefield,” the predominantly Buddhist nation’s first Catholic cardinal Charles Maung Bo said on Twitter.

Several injured were taken away by other protesters, leaving bloody traces on the sidewalks, media images showed. A man has died after being taken to hospital with a bullet in his chest, said a doctor who asked not to be identified.

A woman died of a suspected heart attack after police rushed to smash a demonstration by Yangon teachers with stun grenades, her daughter and a colleague said.

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Police also opened fire on Dawei in the south, killing three people and injuring several, politician Kyaw Min Htike from the town told Reuters.

The Myanmar now A media outlet reported that two people were killed during a protest in Mandalay Second City. Police and the spokesperson for the ruling military council did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Police dispersed the protests to other towns, including Lashio in the northeast and Myeik in the deep south, residents and media said.

‘Never kneel down’

Junta leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said last week that authorities were using minimal force to deal with the protests. The military said a policeman was killed.

The repression seems to indicate the determination of the army to impose its authority in the face of a widespread challenge, not only in the streets but more broadly in the public service, municipal administration, justice, education and civil service sectors. health and the media.

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“The manifest escalation in the use of lethal force by the Burmese security forces in several cities … is scandalous and unacceptable”, Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia of New York Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Hundreds of protesters refused to leave the streets in the early afternoon in Yangon. Many erected barricades while others chanted slogans and sang songs of protest.

“If they attack us, we will defend. We will never kneel under military boots, ”Nyan Win Shein said at a demonstration in Yangon.

Early in the day, police rushed to disperse a demonstration of teachers with stun grenades, scare the crowds away. A teacher, Tin New Yee, has died of a suspected heart attack, her daughter and a fellow teacher said.

Police also threw stun grenades in front of a medical school in Yangon, sending doctors and students in white coats to disperse. A group called the Whitecoat Alliance of medics said more than 50 medical staff were arrested.

State-run MRTV television said more than 470 people were arrested on Saturday when police launched the nationwide crackdown. It is not known how many were detained on Sunday.

‘Instill fear’

Young activist Esther Ze Naw said that people previously struggled with the fear they had lived with under military rule. “Obviously they are trying to instill fear in us by making us run and hide,” she said. “We cannot accept this.”

The police action came after state television reported that Myanmar’s UN envoy was sacked for betraying the country, after urging the UN to use “all means necessary” to reverse the coup.

Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun remained provocative. “I decided to fight as long as possible,” he said Reuters At New York.

While Western countries have condemned the coup and some have imposed limited sanctions, generals have traditionally ignored diplomatic pressure. They promised to hold new elections but did not set a date.

Suu Kyi’s party and supporters said the outcome of the November vote must be respected. Suu Kyi, 75, who spent nearly 15 years under house arrest, faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and violating a natural disaster law by violating coronavirus protocols . The next hearing in his case will be on Monday.