Myanmar protests continue amid reports of killings in Yangon

Witnesses and local media report that at least three people were killed by security forces in Yangon.

Based on a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group, 462 civilians have been killed since the coup [Reuters]

Protesters and mourners took to the streets of Myanmar amid reports of security forces killing three people in Yangon, just two days after 114 people were killed on the bloodiest day since the February 1 military coup.

A man was killed and several others wounded on Monday when security forces fired on one Yangon neighbourhood, media and a witness said.

“He was shot in the head,” Thiha Soe, a witness, told Reuters news agency. “They were shooting at everything on the road, even a Red Cross team. It’s still going on as I’m speaking to you.”

Police and a military spokesman did not comment on the allegations.

Myanmar’s Red Cross told Reuters in a message it was checking the report.

Two people were killed in another Yangon district when security forces moved in to clear protesters’ barricades, a resident said.

“We can confirm two were killed in our ward,” said the resident of the South Dagon neighbourhood who asked to be identified as Win.

“About 15 members of the security forces came and shot all around,” said Win, adding that the security forces were using grenades to clear barricades.

Based on a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group, 462 civilians have been killed since the coup.

Despite the violence by security forces, crowds turned out in the central towns of Bago, Minhla, Khin-U, Pinlebu and Taze, Mawlamyine in the south, Demoso in the east and Hsipaw and Mytitkyina in the north, according to media and social media posts.

The General Strike Committee of Nationalities, a protest group, called in an open letter on Facebook for ethnic minority forces to help those standing up to the “unfair oppression” of the military.

“It is necessary for the ethnic armed organisations to collectively protect the people,” the protest group said.

Fighters from different ethnic minority groups have battled the central government for decades for greater autonomy. Though many groups have agreed to ceasefires, fighting has flared in recent days between the army and forces in both the east and north.

Heavy clashes erupted on the weekend near the border with Thailand between the army and fighters from Myanmar’s oldest ethnic minority force, the Karen National Union (KNU).

About 3,000 villagers fled to Thailand when military jets bombed a KNU area, killing three civilians, after an army outpost was attacked by the fighters and 10 people were killed, an activist group and media said.

Tens of thousands of Karen have lived in camps in Thailand for decades.

“Please, let this be an internal problem. We don’t want to have an exodus, evacuation into our territory but we will observe human rights too,” Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters in the capital Bangkok.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng, reporting from Bangkok, said more villagers are expected to cross the border.

“There are reported to be 10,000 more waiting to come across the border,” Cheng said.

“This is the second night in a row that there have been air attacks. We have been hearing from people coming across the border that they are too scared to go back. This is the first time that they have seen significant air attacks like this since the 2015 peace agreement signed with Myanmar military.”

Myanmar’s military has for decades justified its grip on power by saying it is the only institution capable of preserving national unity.

It seized power after saying that November elections, won by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, were fraudulent, an assertion dismissed by the election commission.

Aung San Suu Kyi remains in detention at an undisclosed location and many other figures in her party are also in custody.

Despite the violence, crowds turned out in many towns across the country [AFP]

UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar Tom Andrews said the army was carrying out “mass murder” and called on the world to isolate the military and block its access to weapons.

But foreign criticism and sanctions imposed by some Western countries have failed to sway the generals.

Countries including the United States, Britain, Germany and the European Union again condemned the violence.

“It’s terrible, it’s absolutely outrageous,” US President Joe Biden told reporters in the US state of Delaware.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, called on the generals to stand down from what he called a “senseless path” of violence against their own people.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies