• Sunday, Sep 25, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

4 killed in Myanmar protests, World Bank warns of slump

  • Published at 07:57 am March 26th, 2021
Myanmar protesters
University students and LGBT groups march against the ongoing coup in Dawei, Myanmar on March 25, 2021 Reuters

At least 320 people have been killed in the weeks of unrest that followed the coup

Myanmar security forces shot dead four pro-democracy protesters on Friday, witnesses and local media reports said, as activist leaders called for a huge show of defiance to the ruling military junta on the country's Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

The World Bank said Myanmar's economy could slump 10% this year due to the turmoil since the coup last month that overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

But in a week that saw international pressure on the generals ramped up with new US and European sanctions, Russia offered support for the military and said it wanted to strengthen ties.

Protesters against the junta have taken to the streets almost daily since the February1 coup, prompting an uncompromising crackdown by the security forces.

Demonstrations took place across the country overnight and on Friday, including in the Mandalay and Sagaing regions, as well as in Karen and Chin states, media reports said.

Security forces opened fire on protesters waving black flags in the southern town of Myeik, a witness said.

"Two were killed by head shots," the witness told Reuters. "We cannot pick up the (third) dead body as many security forces are there."

Several other people were wounded, said the witness, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution.

Another witness said he had seen a fourth body. Myanmar Now news said four people were killed in the town.

At least 320 people have been killed in the weeks of unrest that followed the coup, according to figures as of Thursday night from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.

Its data shows that at least 25% of those who were killed died from shots to the head, raising suspicions they were deliberately targeted for killing.

Reuters could not independently verify the numbers killed. A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The United Nations' special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said the military had turned against its own citizens.

"Women, youth and children have been among those killed," she said in a statement.

US Ambassador Thomas Vajda and his wife Amy Sebes placed a wreath in front of a Yangon school where a protester was shot and killed last month.

"We honour the memory of all those who have lost their lives since the February 1 coup," the embassy said in a Twitter post.

Half an hour later, troops took the wreath away, witnesses said.

Strategic Ally

While Western powers have condemned the coup and the lethal crackdown, Russia said it wanted to strengthen ties with the Myanmar military.

Russian deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin met junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on Friday and said Myanmar was a reliable ally and strategic partner of Moscow, Tass news agency reported.

Moscow's support for the junta is important as it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and along with China, which has also refrained from criticism, can block potential UN actions.

The World Bank on Friday slashed its forecast for Myanmar's economy to a 10% contraction in 2021 from the growth expected previously.

Myanmar "has been heavily affected by protests, worker strikes, and military actions," it said.

The forecast came after the United States, Britain and the European Union imposed new sanctions on groups and individuals linked to the coup.

The targets included Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited, both part of a military-controlled network that spans sectors from mining to tourism and has enriched the generals.

'War has Not Ended'

A group of about 100 people beating drums held a protest in the downtown Sule area of the commercial capital Yangon before being chased away by security forces, witnesses said.

"This war has not ended until we win," one protester, Phone Naing, told Reuters. "I will fight them as much as we can."

Organizers have called for widespread protests on Saturday, observed as Armed Forces Day commemorating the start of the military's resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945.

"We have to revive that history on March 27, 2021 in this spring revolution," wrote Ei Thinzar Maung, a protest leader, in a social media post.

"The day for the people to revolt against the Tatmadaw (military), which has been oppressing people for ages...has come again."

Authorities freed about 300 protesters on Friday who had been detained in Yangon, witnesses and news reports said. About 1,000 have previously been freed from a total of about 3,000 arrested, the AAPP activist group has said.

However, Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's most prominent civilian politician, remains in detention at an undisclosed location. Many other figures in her National League for Democracy are also being held in custody.

The military says it acted because the NLD's victory in an election last November was marred by fraud - a claim rejected by the electoral commission and many foreign governments. It has placed the country under a state of emergency and said it will organise a new election, though it has not set a date.

Unknown attackers hurled petrol bombs at the headquarters of the NLD in Yangon early on Friday, the Myanmar Now portal reported. There were no casualties, and some furniture was damaged, it said.

Residents said that after dark on Thursday, soldiers raided Yangon's Mingalar Taungnyunt district and arrested people on the streets after curfew.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail