Police shoot one woman, arrest dozens in most extensive crackdown on Myanmar protesters
YANGON (MYANMAR) – One woman was shot and wounded and dozens of people were detained in Myanmar on Saturday in what is seen as the most extensive police crackdown on protesters who are agitating against the junta.
Three domestic media outlets said earlier that the woman shot in the central town of Monwya had died but an ambulance service official said she was in hospital. The circumstances of the shooting were not clear and police were not available for comment.
The violence came after Myanmar’s U.N. envoy, saying he was speaking for the ousted civilian government, urged the United Nations to use “any means necessary” to reverse the Feb. 1 coup.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership, alleging fraud in a November election her party won in a landslide.
The coup, which stalled Myanmar’s progress toward democracy, has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets and drawn condemnation from Western countries, with some imposing limited sanctions.
Police were out in force in cities and towns from early on Saturday in their most determined effort yet to stamp out the protests.
In the main city of Yangon, police took up positions at usual protest sites and detained people as they congregated, witnesses said. Several journalists were detained, their media organisations and colleagues said.
Confrontations developed as more people came out despite the police operation.
Crowds chanted and sang then scattered into side streets and buildings as police advanced, firing tear gas, setting off stun grenades and shooting guns into the air, witnesses said.
“People are protesting peacefully but they’re threatening us with weapons,” youth activist Shar Yamone said.
“We’re fighting to end to this military bullying which has been going on for generation after generation.”
Some protesters threw up barricades across streets. Crowds eventually thinned but police in Yangon were still chasing groups and firing into the air in the late afternoon, witnesses said. Police detained numerous people through the day and set upon some with clubs.
Similar scenes played out in the second city of Mandalay and other towns, witnesses and media said. Among those detained in Mandalay was Win Mya Mya, one of two Muslim members of parliament for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), media said.
Aye Aye Tint, a protester in the central town of Monwya said police had fired water cannon as they surrounded a crowd.
Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing has said authorities have been using minimal force. Nevertheless, at least three protesters have died over the days of turmoil. The army says a policeman was killed in earlier violence.
Uncertainty has grown over Suu Kyi’s whereabouts, as an independent media website on Friday quoted officials of her party as saying she had been moved this week from house arrest to an undisclosed location.
Activists called for another day of protests on Sunday.