Yangon, Myanmar – Protesters gathered again across Myanmar on Sunday, the day after security forces shot and killed two people at a demonstration in the country’s second largest city. A funeral was also held for a young woman who had previously been killed by police.
Mya Thwet Thwet Khine was the first confirmed death among the many thousands who took to the streets to protest the February 1 coup that overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The woman was shot dead on February 9, two days before her 20th birthday, during a protest in the capital, Nayptitaw, and died on Friday.
About 1,000 people in cars and bicycles gathered at the hospital Sunday morning, where their bodies were being held under tight security. Even the victim’s grandparents, who had traveled from Yangon, five hours away, refused entry. When her body was released, a long motorized procession began a trip to the cemetery.
In Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, around 1,000 demonstrators honored the woman under an elevated street.
“I want to tell the dictator and his staff through the media that we are peaceful demonstrators,” said protester Min Htet Naing. “Stop the genocide. Stop using deadly weapons. “
Another major protest took place in Mandalay, where police shot and killed two people near a shipyard on Saturday when security forces tried to force workers to load a boat. The workers, such as railroad workers and truck drivers and many officials, participated in a campaign against the junta.
The shooting broke out after local residents rushed to the Yadanabon dock to try to help workers resist. One of the victims, described as a teenager, was shot in the head and died instantly, while another was shot in the chest and died on the way to a hospital.
Several other serious injuries have also been reported. Testimony and photos of cartridge cases showed that the security forces used live ammunition in addition to rubber bullets, water cannons and slingshots.
The new deaths met with quick and strong reactions from the international community.
“The shooting of peaceful demonstrators is more than pale,” said British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on Twitter. “Together with our international partners, we will consider further measures against those who destroy democracy and stifle dissent.”
The UK last week frozen assets of three leading generals in Myanmar and imposed travel bans, adding to the targeted sanctions already in place.
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Singapore, which is part of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations along with Myanmar, issued a statement condemning the use of lethal force as “inexcusable”.
She urged the security forces to exercise “extreme restraint” and warned: “If the situation continues to escalate, it will have serious adverse consequences for Myanmar and the region.”
Another gunshot death took place in Yangon on Saturday evening under unclear circumstances. According to multiple reports on social media, including a live broadcast showing the body, the victim was a man who acted as a volunteer guard for a neighborhood watch group. Such groups were formed because of fear that the authorities would use released criminals to spread panic and fear by starting fires and committing violence.
The junta took power after arresting Suu Kyi and preventing the convening of parliament. The elections last November were adversely affected by voting irregularities. The election result, in which the party of the National League for Democracy was won by Suu Kyi by a landslide, was confirmed by an electoral commission that has since been replaced by the military. The junta says it will hold new elections in a year.
The coup was a severe blow to Myanmar’s transition to democracy after 50 years of military rule that began with a 1962 coup. Suu Kyi came to power after her party won a 2015 election, but the generals retained significant power under the constitution, which was passed under a military regime.