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Several Myanmar protesters reported killed

March 11, 2021

Witnesses and local media have said at least 10 people have been killed during anti-coup protests across Myanmar. Meanwhile, a UN rights expert cited 'credible reports' that over 70 had been killed since protests began.

Protesters in Yangon on Friday
At least 60 people have been killed so far over weeks of violent protest across MyanmarImage: AP/picture alliance

An anti coup protest in the central Myanmar town of Myaing turned deadly on Thursday, with staff at the local hospital reporting that at least six people have been killed.

Graphic images shared by a local journalist showed one person dead on the ground in a pool of blood with what appears to be a head injury.

A man who took part in the demonstration and helped carry bodies to the hospital told Reuters news agency that security forces had fired on protesters. 

"We protested peacefully," the man said. "I couldn't believe they did it."

Another witness told Germany's dpa news agency that forces targeted a group of people protesting in front of a police station.

"The police cracked down on the protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets first, then fired shots with live bullets. Now six people are dead, including one of my friends," the man said.

Four other protester deaths were reported in Myanmar on Thursday during separate protests in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, Bago and Taungoo.

What is causing violence in Myanmar?

Security forces in Myanmar have been using increasingly brutal tactics to suppress a nationwide protest movement opposing the military take over of the democratically elected government on February 1. 

Amnesty International on Thursday issued a scathing report saying Myanmar's military is using "lethal tactics" and "weapons normally seen on the battlefield against peaceful protesters." 

Myanmar's military, the Tatmadaw, took over the government after claiming for months that the November 2020 general election was fraudulent. Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won the election in a landslide victory

The protesters are demanding a return to civilian government.

On Thursday, a junta spokesperson accused  Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint of corruption. 

The military said Suu Kyi accepted illegal payments worth $600,000 (€501,000) plus bars of gold worth hundreds of thousands by a political ally while in government. 

Myint was accused of pressuring Myanmar's election commission to ignore the military's claims of election irregularities. 

UN condemns violence

On Thursday, Thomas Andrews, an independent UN rights expert focusing on Myanmar, cited "credible reports" that Myanmar security forces have killed at least 70 people since the start of the protests.

"It should come as little surprise that there is growing evidence that this same Myanmar military, led by the same senior leadership, is now engaging in crimes against humanity," said Andrews. 

Before Thursday, the death toll of the protests stood at 60, with more than 2,000 people having been arrested, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group.

The deaths come one day after the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the violence used against protesters and called for Myanmar's military to exercise "restraint."

A statement approved by all Security Council members, including Myanmar ally China, also called for the reversal of the coup and the immediate release of elected leaders who have been jailed since the military takeover. 

The British-drafted statement stressed "the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and uphold the rule of law."

A presidential statement is not legally binding like a Security Council resolution, but it does become part of the body's official record. 

wmr/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP)