A deadly attack on protesters against the coup in Myanmar triggered a new UN condemnation of the country’s new military regime on Sunday, when mourners held a funeral for a young woman who has become a national symbol of resistance to the junta.
Authorities have gradually stepped up their tactics against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding the return of dismissed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Saturday was the deadliest day so far in more than two weeks of nationwide street demonstrations after two people were killed when security forces fired on a meeting in Mandalay, while a third man was shot dead in Yangon.
When dusk fell on Sunday in Yangon, Monywa and Myitkyina, protesters held bodyguards and ceremonies to pay tribute to the dead.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the use of “lethal force” against the Mandalay crowd.
“The use of lethal force, threats and harassment against peaceful protesters is unacceptable,” Guterres wrote on Twitter.
The UN General Assembly is scheduled to convene on Friday for informal talks on the situation of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, but the coup is likely to be at the center.
Late on Sunday, Myanmar’s foreign ministry accused the UN and foreign countries of “blatant interference” in its internal affairs.
“Despite facing the illegal demonstrations, incentives for unrest and violence, the relevant authorities exercise extreme restraint through minimal use of force to address the disturbances,” the statement said.
I condemn the use of lethal force in Myanmar.
The use of lethal force, threats and harassment against peaceful protesters is unacceptable.
Everyone has the right to a peaceful assembly. I urge all parties to respect the election results and return to civilian rule.
– António Guterres (@antonioguterres) February 21, 2021
Security forces in Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, had tried to raid a yard and detain port staff on strike to protest the army takeover.
Medical rescue workers said troops used live rounds and rubber bullets at a crowd that had begun throwing stones in an attempt to stop the arrests.
“Two people were killed,” said Hlaing Min Oo, head of a Mandalay-based volunteer rescue team.
Another 30 were injured, with half of the injuries from live broadcasts, he added.
A graphic video circulated on Facebook showing a teenage victim spreading on the ground and bleeding from the head when a spectator places a hand on his chest to feel a heartbeat.
State media did not mention the death but blamed the protesters for the repetition and said that protest leaders had been detained.
“Some” protesters had been injured by security forces, Global New Light of Myanmar reported, along with three soldiers and eight police officers.
In a separate incident on Saturday, a 30-year-old man in Yangon was killed while patrolling the neighborhood as part of an initiative to protect himself against arrest by activists at night.
Tin Htut Hein’s sister-in-law said he had been shot dead by police.
“His wife is broken now,” she said. “They have a four-year-old son.”
Police claimed that 20 people attacked a vehicle while officers were trying to take an injured man to hospital, the state broadcaster said and reported that they fired warning shots to disperse the group.
Unscathed by the violence the previous day, large crowds returned to the streets of Mandalay and Yangon on Sunday.
In the capital Naypyidaw, a funeral service was held for a young protester who died on Friday after being shot in the head during a demonstration.
Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who turned 20 almost two weeks ago when she lay unconscious in a hospital bed, has since become a strong symbol of the campaign against military rule.
A large guard of honor accompanied her funeral procession, along with vehicles adorned with floral wreaths and large pictures of the grocery store worker.
Guards in her honor have been held elsewhere in the country by protesters reciting Metta Sutta, a Buddhist prayer calling for protection from harm.
Much of Myanmar has been in turmoil since troops arrested Suu Kyi on February 1, with massive street demonstrations in major cities and isolated villages across the country.
The United States, Britain and Canada have all responded with sanctions against Myanmar’s top generals.
The European Union’s foreign ministers will meet on Monday to discuss their own actions against the regime.
When Myanmar set out for an eighth day in a row of internet shutdowns, which are expected to begin on Monday morning, the US embassy reported that the break could last until noon in Yangon rather than the usual eight hours from noon. .
Since the army takeover, 640 people have been detained, according to the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Among those targeted have been railway workers, civil servants and bank staff, who have resigned as part of the anti-coup campaign.
The popular actor Lu Min became the latest high-quality celebrity who was taken into custody to condemn the regime.
“Many police cars came and arrested (him),” said his wife Khin Sabel Oo, in a video she posted directly on Facebook when her husband was removed.