March 3 Was Deadliest Day for Myanmar Since Protests Began
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Myanmar protests saw the deadliest day since the military coup in February.
Myanmar police forces killed at least 18 people so far, according to The UN Human Rights Office and other sources.
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“Police and military forces have confronted peaceful demonstrations, using lethal force and less-than-lethal force that – according to credible information received by the UN Human Rights Office – has left at least 18 people dead and over 30 wounded,” the UN human rights office said.
Police have used water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to quell protests, as well as live rounds.
Casualties have been reported in Yangon, Mandalay, Lashio, Dawei, Myeik, Bago and elsewhere.
The first reported casualty was Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing, 19, who was shot in the head at a protest.
In a video that surfaced, Khaing is seen wearing a helmet, and then collapsing to the ground after being hit with a bullet. It was revealed later that the bullet penetrated her helmet.
It is also alleged that Myanmar police forces have been forcing young children to set fire to houses and buildings to cause disruption within communities.
In addition, the Myanmar police have been detaining people.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group said around 850 have been detained so far.
That includes journalists, activists and even actors.
Burmese actor Lu Min was arrested on charges of “incitement.”
A reporter for the Associated Press, Thein Zaw, 32, was also detained and is reportedly being held at Insein Prison, one of the most notorious prisons in Southeast Asia for holding political prisoners in poor conditions.
Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s permanent representative to the UN, was also fired from his position by the Myanmar military after he called on the international community to “take the strongest possible action” to oppose the military takeover and was seen in a photo posing with the three-finger salute, a gesture being used by anti-coup, pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar.
“He failed to follow the state’s orders and instructions, committed treason… misused his authoritative powers as an ambassador of Myanmar,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Several others have offered statements denouncing the military takeover and use of force against protesters.
“[Guterres] is deeply disturbed by the increase in deaths and serious injuries. The use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable,” a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.
Besides statements of condemnation, it is unclear what other actions the United Nations has taken.
U.S. President Joe Biden has placed sanctions on the military government.
“The U.S. Government is taking steps to prevent the generals from improperly having access to the 1 billion dollars in Burmese government funds held in the U.S.,” Biden said.
Biden also signed an executive order to “sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests, as well as close family members.”
“We’re freezing U.S. assets that benefit the Burmese government, while maintaining our support for healthcare, civil society groups, and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly,” Biden said.
Thant Myint U, historian and grandson of the longest reigning UN Secretary General U Thant, said, “It’s correct for foreign governments to stand against a new dictatorship in Myanmar, but they should avoid sanctions that could tip the country over the edge into economic collapse.”
The Myanmar military has had a history of taking swift action against protests. Most notably, the 1988 uprising incident, in which several students in Yangon, formerly called Rangoon, took to the streets for pro-Democracy protests.
The protests ended in a bloody massacre, in which thousands of people were killed, though the Myanmar military has maintained that the deaths were in the hundreds, not thousands.