Security forces in Myanmar cracked down heavily again on anti-coup protesters Friday even as the military downplayed reports of state violence. Reports on online news outlets and social media said at least four people were killed in Bago, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Yangon, in an attack by government troops and police that began before dawn and continued sporadically until after dark. The Bago Weekly Journal Online said a source at the city’s main hospital, whom it didn’t name, believed about 10 people had been killed. It was the third attack this week involving the massive use of deadly force by security forces to try to crush active opposition to the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. On Wednesday, attacks were launched on opponents of military rule in the towns of Kalay and Taze in the country’s north. In both places, at least 11 people -- possibly including some bystanders -- were reported killed. Security forces were accused of using heavy weapons in their attacks, including rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. The allegations could not be independently confirmed by The Associated Press. Also read:Will Myanmar learn its lessons? Some of the protesters used homemade weapons, especially in Kalay, where defenders called themselves a “civil army,” and some were equipped with rudimentary hunting rifles. Most protests in cities and town around the country have been nonviolent, with demonstrators espousing civil disobedience. Violence by security forces was also reported Friday in several other areas, including Loikaw, the capital of Kayah sate in the east, where live ammunition was employed, according to numerous social media posts. At least 614 protesters and bystanders have been killed by security forces through Thursday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests. At a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, a spokesman for the ruling junta defended the actions of the security forces. Also read:Myanmar cuts wireless internet service amid coup protests Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, when asked about reports that automatic weapons have been fired at protesters, replied that if that were the case, 500 people would have been killed in just a few hours. He challenged the death toll issued by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners and said the government’s tally was 248. He also said 16 policemen had been killed. Asked about air strikes carried out by government jets on territory held by guerrillas from the Karen ethnic minority in eastern Myanmar, which reportedly killed at least 14 civilians, Zaw Min Tun said the aerial raids allowed more exact targeting than ground attacks which would have caused more deaths. Supporters of the Karen charge that the army is carrying out a ground offensive as well, including the use of artillery.
Myanmar’s ruling junta stepped up its campaign against celebrities who support nationwide protests against its seizure of power, publishing wanted lists in the state press and warning against using their work. The move follows weeks of escalating violence by security forces in breaking up street protests against the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. At least 570 protesters and bystanders, including 47 children, have been killed since the takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests and says the true toll is likely higher. The coup reversed the country’s gradual return to democracy after five decades of military rule. Also Read: Myanmar death toll mounts amid protests, military crackdown... The lists published Sunday and Monday in the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper include actors, musicians and social media influencers charged with violating Section 505(A) of the Penal Code for “spreading news to affect state stability.” The penalty for the offense is up to three years’ imprisonment. A chart filling most of a page lists 20 people, along with photos, hometowns and Facebook pages of each. Several actors and directors were also charged in February, but the campaign against celebrity protest supporters was stepped up last week when army-controlled Myawaddy TV broadcast a wanted list. There are now at least 60 people on such lists. Also Read: Will Myanmar learn its lessons? May Toe Khine, who describes herself in her Twitter profile as “Full Time Burmese Actress / Part Time Fashion Designer Student,” tweeted after the TV announcement that her arrest warrant was “for simply doing my job as a civilian: using my platform to speak out the truth.” “Please always pay attention to news in Myanmar until we win,” she wrote. What appears to be a leaked document from the Information Ministry advises broadcasters and production agencies of the accusations against people in the fields of literature, film, theater arts, music and journalism. It warns them not to publish or broadcast any of their work or face prosecution themselves. The April 4 document, which could not be authenticated by The Associated Press, was reported by Khit Thit Media and widely circulated on social media. Protests continued Monday around the country, but generally on a smaller scale than recently and often in ways intended to avoid confrontations. On Sunday, an “Easter Egg Strike” was held with eggs painted in support of the protests displayed in public places and online. In Dawei, a city in southeastern Myanmar that is a stronghold of the protest movement, a short march was accompanied by a motorcycle procession. In Yangon, the country’s biggest city, a memorial march for the dead was held by mourners clad in black. Separately, about 20 people gathered briefly on a city street and burned Chinese flags. Many protesters believe that Beijing backs the military regime with economic and political support, including the threat of a veto at the U.N. Security Council against international sanctions.
Hundreds of people imprisoned for demonstrating against last month’s coup in Myanmar were released Wednesday, a rare conciliatory gesture by the military that appeared aimed at placating the protest movement. Witnesses outside Insein Prison in Yangon saw busloads of mostly young people, looking happy with some flashing the three-finger gesture of defiance adopted by protesters. State-run TV said a total of 628 were freed. Also Wednesday, Thein Zaw, a journalist for The Associated Press who was arrested last month while covering an anti-coup protest, was released. Also Read: 2 journalists detained as Myanmar junta clamps down on press Myanmar’s security forces have cracked down violently on protests against a Feb. 1 coup that reversed a decade of progress toward democracy in the Southeast Asian country and ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says that at least 275 people have been killed in connection with the crackdown. Thousands have also been arrested, and more than 2,000 remain in custody or have charges against them outstanding. Wednesday’s release was an unusual overture by the military, which has so far seemed impervious to both internal pressure from protests and outside pressure from sanctions. In the face of an increasingly brutal crackdown, demonstrators tried a new tactic Wednesday that they dubbed a silence strike, calling on people to stay home and businesses to close for the day. Also Read: UN: 38 died on deadliest day yet for Myanmar coup opposition The prisoners released appear to be the hundreds of students detained in early March. One lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity because she fears drawing attention from the authorities, said all those released were arrested on March 3. She said only 55 people detained in connection with the protests remained in the prison, and it is likely they will all face charges under a law that carries a penalty of up to three years in prison. The mass release came the same day that Thein Zaw was also freed. Thein Zaw told the AP that the judge in his case announced during a hearing that all charges against him were dropped because he was doing his job at the time of his arrest. “I’m looking forward to meeting my family members,” he said. “I’m sorry for some colleagues who are still in prison.” Meanwhile, messages online urged people to stay home Wednesday in protest — rather than flooding the streets as they have in the past — saying silence is “the loudest scream.” The messages explained the strike’s purpose was to honor the movement’s fallen heroes, to allow protesters to recharge and to contradict the junta’s claims that “everything is back to normal.” The extent of the strike was difficult to gauge, but social media users posted photos from cities and towns showing streets empty of activity save for an occasional stray dog. Some protesters did go out to release red balloons with leaflets attached. The new tactic was employed after an extended onslaught of violence from security forces. Local media reported that a 7-year-old girl in Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, was among the latest victims on Tuesday. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners included her in its list of fatalities. “Khin Myo Chit was shot in the abdomen by a soldier while she sat in her father’s lap inside her home in Aung Pin Le ward,” the online news service Myanmar Now reported, quoting her sister, Aye Chan San. The report said the shooting took place when soldiers were raiding homes in her family’s neighborhood. The sister said a soldier shot at their father when he denied that any people were hiding in their home, and hit the girl. Aye Chan San said the soldiers then beat her 19-year-old brother with their rifle butts and took him away. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said tbe United Nations is “extremely disturbed over the killing by security forces of a 7-year-old child in her home.” “There must be accountability for all the crimes and human rights violations that continue to be perpetrated in Myanmar,” he said. Haq said the U,N. noted reports of the release of hundreds of demonstrators and remained concerned about ongoing arrests by the military, including of journalists and civil society leaders. The U.N. called “for the release of all those arbitrarily detained, including President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” Haq said. He said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and U.N. special envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener “will continue to mobilize international action for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Myanmar.”
Authorities in Myanmar arrested a spokesman for ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party as they intensify efforts to choke off the spread of information about growing protests against last month’s military takeover.
Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in a wide area of the country’s largest city, as security forces killed dozens of protesters over the weekend in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup.
South Korea has decided to restrict the export of military goods including tear gas to Myanmar, suspend bilateral defense exchanges and reconsider development assistance to the Southeast Asian nation amid its violent crackdown on citizens protesting a coup, the government said Friday.
Myanmar’s military-controlled government is seeking to suppress media coverage of protests against its seizure of power as journalists and ordinary citizens strive to inform people inside and outside of the country about what is happening.
Three anti-coup protesters were shot dead by security forces on Monday, local media reported, as workers staged a general strike across the country against the return of military rule.
Australia has suspended its defense cooperation with Myanmar and is redirecting humanitarian aid in the country because of last month's military takeover of the government and the ongoing detention of an Australian citizen.
Demonstrators defied growing violence by Myanmar security forces and staged more anti-coup rallies Friday, while the U.N. special envoy for the country called for urgent Security Council action, saying about 50 peaceful protesters were killed and scores were injured in the military’s worst crackdowns this week.