Casualties ‘drastically increasing’, advocacy group says, as Chinese factories set ablaze in Yangon.
A court in Myanmar has postponed deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s virtual hearing because of internet issues, a lawyer said, as security forces again opened fire on protesters rallying against the military’s February 1 coup.
The court’s decision on Monday to adjourn Aung San Suu Kyi’s hearing comes amid a mobile internet shutdown in the country, a day after security forces killed at least 44 people in the deadliest crackdown on anti-coup protests yet.
Khin Maung Zaw, the head of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, told Reuters news agency the court adjourned her case until March 24.
The Nobel laureate, who has not been seen in public since her detention on the day of the military takeover, faces at least four charges, including the illegal use of walkie-talkie radios and violating coronavirus protocols. Khin Maung Zaw told Reuters in a video message that Aung San Suu Kyi was only permitted to be represented by two junior lawyers.
Opponents of the coup marched again in the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay on Monday as well as in the central town of Myingyan. Witnesses told Reuters police opened fire on protesters in Myingyan and killed at least two people.
“They fired on us,” one 18-year-old protester said. “One girl got shot in the head and a boy got shot in the face … I’ve heard they died.”
Despite the military’s increasingly forceful attempts to quell dissent, protesters demanding Aung San Suu Kyi’s release have taken to the streets across Myanmar for six weeks.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a monitoring group, added six more deaths on Monday to the overnight toll of 38.
The military declared martial law in Hlaingthaya and several other districts of Yangon as well in parts of the second city of Mandalay on Monday.
Also announced 5 twsps in #Mandalay also placed under #MyanmarMilitary #MartialLaw. Violence and #CrimesAgainstHumanity have already escalated steadily since Feb 1 – #Tatmadaw is clearly digging in for more violence against #MyanmarProtests. #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar #MyanmarCoup pic.twitter.com/zKukVHlROx
— ALTSEAN-Burma (@Altsean) March 15, 2021
On Sunday, attackers torched several Chinese-owned factories in the textile-producing district of Hlaingthaya in Yangon.
The arson attacks provoked China’s strongest comments yet on the turmoil gripping its Southeast Asian neighbour, where many people see China as supportive of the military takeover.
The Chinese embassy said many Chinese staff had been injured and trapped in the attacks, and urged Myanmar’s ruling generals to “stop all acts of violence, punish the perpetrators in accordance with the law and ensure the safety of life and property of Chinese companies and personnel”.
China’s Global Times newspaper blamed instigators for the arson and called for their punishment. It said China was trying to promote a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
Protest leader Thinzar Shunlei Yi said Myanmar people did not hate their Chinese neighbours but China’s rulers had to understand the outrage felt in Myanmar over their stance.
“Chinese government must stop supporting coup council if they actually care about Sino-Myanmar relations and to protect their businesses,” she said on Twitter.
The UN envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, strongly condemned Sunday’s bloodshed by Myanmar’s security forces, while the United Kingdom said it was “appalled” by the use of force “against innocent people”.
Tom Andrews, the UN human rights investigator on Myanmar, meanwhile appealed for UN member states to cut the supply of cash and weapons to the military.
“Heartbroken/outraged at news of the largest number of protesters murdered by Myanmar security forces in a single day. Junta leaders don’t belong in power, they belong behind bars,” he said on Twitter.
Several Western countries have called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s generals over the power grab and the ensuing violence. Asian neighbours have also offered to help resolve the crisis but Myanmar has a long record of rejecting outside intervention.
A senior official from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, Mahn Win Khaing Than, who is on the run along with most senior party officials, said on the weekend the civilian government would give people the legal right to defend themselves. It announced a law to that effect on Sunday.