Security forces in Myanmar on Saturday again met protests against last month’s military takeover with lethal force, killing at least four people by shooting live ammunition at demonstrators.
Three deaths were reported in Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, and one in Pyay, a town in south-central Myanmar. There were multiple reports on social media of the deaths, along with photos of dead and wounded people in both locations.
The independent U.N. human rights expert for Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said Thursday that “credible reports” indicated security forces in the Southeast Asian nation had so far killed at least 70 people, and cited growing evidence of crimes against humanity since the military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Reports on social media also said three people were shot dead Friday night in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, where residents for the past week have been defying an 8 p.m. curfew to come out on the streets.
Two deaths by gunfire were reported in Yangon’s Thaketa township, where a protest being held outside a police station was dispersed. A crowd had gathered there to demand the release of three young men who were seized from their home earlier Friday night. Photos said to be of the bodies of two dead protesters were posted online. The other reported fatality Friday night was of a 19-year-old man shot in Hlaing township.
The nighttime protests may reflect a more aggressive approach to self-defense that has been advocated by some protesters. Police had been aggressively patrolling residential neighborhoods at night, firing into the air and setting off stun grenades in an effort at intimidation. They have also been carrying out targeted raids, taking people from their homes with minimal resistance. In at least two known cases, the detainees died in custody within hours of being taken away.
Another possible indication of heightened resistance emerged Saturday with photos posted online of a railway bridge said to have been damaged by an explosive charge.
The bridge was described in multiple accounts as being on the rail line from Mandalay to Myitkyina, the capital of the northern state of Kachin. The photos show damage to part of a concrete support.
No one took responsibility for the action, but it could serve a two-fold purpose.It could be seen as support for the nationwide strike of state railway workers, who are part of the civil disobedience movement against the coup. SOVEREIGNPH