Myanmar’s security forces carried out a bloody attack on a protest against the military coup at the Yadanarbon shipyard in Mandalay on February 20, 2021. They opened fire on the crowd and killed at least two people, including a 16-year-old. Jowharobservers reconstructed this violent day using images published online by eyewitnesses.
Pictures posted on social media on February 20 show protesters gathering at the Yadanarbon shipyard in Mandalay. Some carry flags, while others have their mobile phones out filming the scene. A child appears in the foreground. Suddenly everyone starts running. In a video posted on Twitter, you can see people running when the sound of shots is heard:
At the beginning of the video, you can see the same blue sign visible at the entrance to the naval shipyard on Google Street View.
Many protesters came to the shipyard in Myanmar’s second largest city to support naval sailors who went on strike after the February 1 military coup. On the morning of February 20, security forces flooded the port in an attempt to force the people who fought to get back to work.
This excerpt from a video posted on Facebook Live shows protesters gathered near a ship. On board, the police are negotiating with the strikes.
Security forces opened fire on the crowd several times that day. Many videos are livestreamed on Facebook or published online after both protesters and journalists document this violence. We also talked to observers who were eyewitnesses.
“The soldiers used rubber bullets, air weapons and real firearms. We had done nothing! ‘
A demonstrator at the scene told his story to the JowharObserver team:
The soldiers used rubber bullets, air weapons and real firearms. We had done nothing! Many protesters were arrested, although some were injured. My father saw a 37-year-old man killed with his own eyes. They even fired at the ambulance that came to help the wounded.
A Reuters photographer, who shared this video, explained that it came from a Facebook Live filmed by a woman who lived in the neighborhood.
>> Read more observers: Video shows a protester shot dead in Myanmar
A protester shot near a monastery
After the first shots were fired, protesters found shell casings and bullets on the ground, as shown in this video filmed in a courtyard near Myo Patt Road, next to a monastery.
The full version of this video was shared on Facebook on February 20, 2021.
A video excerpt from the Facebook broadcast from the media The Voice of Myanmar shows that a man is shot in the same place. Protesters were hiding behind a truck with slingshots to throw stones at the security forces, when the security forces suddenly opened fire on them:
In another part of this Facebook Live you can see a beige building (33’57 ”), a gray house (34’15 ”) and a Buddhist pagoda (34’20 ”) which are also shown in satellite images on Google maps.
A 16-year-old dies of gunshot wounds: ‘I saw him lying on the ground, almost dead’
Initial reports say two people were killed: Thet Naing Win, a 36-year-old carpenter, and Wai Yan Tun, a 16-year-old who worked in the market.
Another protester, who was talking to the JowharObservers team, was hiding near the night market when the teenager was shot and killed. She asked to remain anonymous.
When the shooting started, my friends ran. Only two of us left. We hid behind a truck because there were other elderly people there and we thought we would be protected. Then I heard a shot.
A little later, when it seemed that the police had stopped firing, I came out of my hiding place. I saw a boy on the ground, almost dead. It was the boy whose photo circulated online: 16-year-old Wai Yan Tun. He was shot in the head and his skull was broken. There was a lot of blood. It was scary.
An emergency doctor told Myanmar Now that the teenager was shot with “very powerful bullets.” He was shot during the assault by security forces, as shown by the video posted on Twitter. JowharObserver’s team edited the video to remove the most disturbing images.
Protesters protect themselves behind vehicles in an attempt to avoid gunfire. One of them collapses. His name is Wai Yan Tun and he was only 16 years old.
The video was filmed near Mandalay’s night market. The panorama below, constructed from screen grabs in the video, matches a picture of Mandalay’s night market on Google Street View. The two were recorded from different angles, but you can recognize the shape of the building and the location of the electric poles.
Above: This panoramic image was constructed by placing several screen grabs from the video side by side. Below: Screengrab or Google Street View. © Twitter, Google Street View
People have paid tribute to the teenager who died during protests by sharing photos and drawings of him on social media.
These images have been circulating a lot on social media since Wai Yan Tun was killed on February 20. © Facebook
The day after the tragedy, hundreds of people paid tribute to the two victims and Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, the young woman who was shot dead on February 9 during a protest in Naypyidaw.
Members of Infantry Division 33 were seen among the security forces deployed to quell the protest on February 20. They are easy to distinguish from pictures taken by the press due to the red insignia on their uniform, which includes the number “33” in the Burmese alphabet. This division is best known for carrying out a bloody campaign against Rohingya, an often persecuted Muslim minority, as early as 2017.
Myanmar has been engulfed in mass protests since the February 1 coup, when former leader Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested by the military junta. Even after a violent crackdown on a protest in Mandalay on February 20, thousands of people took to the streets in a general strike next Monday.