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Myanmar doctors and nurses stage dawn rally against coup

March 21, 2021

Health care workers rallied at dawn in central Myanmar in a bid to avoid a confrontation with security forces.

Health care workers in white coats carry posters of overthrown political leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Doctors, nurses, medical students and pharmacists all took part in the dawn rallyImage: STR/AFP

Medical professionals in Myanmar's second-largest city staged a peaceful dawn march on Sunday to show opposition to the military junta's power grab.

With public protests growing increasingly dangerous, the protesters gathered early in the morning to curb the risk of fatalities at the hands of security forces.

Wearing white coats, about 100 doctors, nurses, medical students and pharmacists lined up on a main road in Mandalay to chant slogans and proclaim their opposition to the February 1 coup.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since soldiers ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in early February. The coup reversed a transition towards democracy that appeared to be underway when Kyi's National League for Democracy party won a 2015 election after five decades of military rule

The military's intervention triggered nationwide protests, with demonstrators demanding a return to democracy. In response, security forces have responded with brutal force, using tear gas, rubber bullets and, increasingly, live bullets.

Victims shot in the head

While there were no fatalities at the Mandalay march, a man was killed in a separate demonstration in the city of Monwya and several were wounded.

The victim was said to have been shot in the head as he was helping assemble barricades for Sunday's protest. Almost all of the people killed since the coup have been shot — in many cases in the head.

Myanmar's independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has verified 247 deaths nationwide linked to the clampdown. However, the association reports that the true figure is likely far higher.

Myanmar protesters sing against coup in face of crackdown

Australia aids two detained nationals

On Sunday, Australia's government confirmed that it was providing help to two citizens who were detained while trying to leave Yangon. 

The two are understood to be business consultants Matthew O'Kane and Christa Avery, who is a dual Canadian-Australian citizen. The couple run a bespoke consultancy company. They were detained while trying to leave the country on a relief flight on Friday, and are now under house arrest.

rc/dj (dpa, APF, AP, Reuters)