The UN Human Rights Office in Myanmar said that at least 18 people were killed and 30 others injured in several cities across the country, including Yangon, Dawi, Mandalay and Bago. The office said the deaths were “as a result of firing live ammunition into crowds.”
The office said: “The use of lethal force against peaceful protesters cannot be justified at all under international human rights standards.”
A protester who was in the Haidan neighborhood of Yangon when the police opened fire, said they fired a short whistle as a warning and immediately began using live ammunition.
First they fired real bullets, then tear gas. “Later they used rubber bullets,” the protester said, and identified himself by part of his name, Yan, for fear of retaliation by the security forces.
He said he saw a man shot in the head who he thought was dead, along with six others who had been shot.
“Now people are regrouping and protesting again,” Yan said at around 1 p.m. local time, saying the violence had made the protesters “more angry” rather than frightened them.
The mass protests began shortly after the military seized power and arrested state advisor Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party, the National League for Democracy, was re-elected by an overwhelming majority in November. The military refused to acknowledge the election results, alleging fraud.
Sunday’s violence marked a major escalation, particularly in Yangon, which has largely avoided a heavy crackdown, even as protesters have been killed in other parts of the country. A man was shot dead by police in Shui Bi Thar town in Yangon on February 21 while on patrol in a civilian neighborhood, but this is the first time that people have been killed during protests.
Confrontations with police began in downtown Yangon with a crowd gathering around a prison truck carrying a group of students who had been arrested. The protesters advanced towards the police line, which then burst, causing people to set off on the various side streets.
Then the police started firing stun grenades while protesters took shelter in homes and shops. Once, a middle-aged protester returned to the street, facing the police alone. “Shoot me, don’t shoot guys!” He shouted.
Later, a group of teachers and lawyers gathered outside Kyauctada police station, where students were being held. “There are 16 students in the station, and in the car maybe more than 17,” said a foreign language teacher, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal. “Almost all of our students have been arrested.”
The teacher explained that lawyers were trying to negotiate with the police not to send the students directly to Insein prison, an increasingly common practice with the increase in arrests.
The Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners said that since the coup, more than 850 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced.
Meanwhile, the city’s Myaynigone neighborhood, a trendy pocket of bars and cafes, has been transformed into a battlefield with roadblocks erected on major roads to slow police action along with nails and diesel spots.
When the reporters entered the area, he called the watchmen from the balconies to warn them of the obstacles.
One of the barricades was run by a group of software engineers, including one who identified himself as Thiha. He asked that his full name not be used for fear of the authorities and said that the police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at them earlier in the day.
“I was crying a little, however [the gas] It didn’t affect me badly because I was far away, “he said, adding that he and his friends were protesting” for freedom “and for the future of his career.
“Everything we have worked for is forbidden without a VPN,” he said, referring to the strict internet restrictions imposed by the junta.
Deep in the neighborhood, protesters were wearing hard hats, some armed with bats and steel rods, walking around singing and chanting. Some have distributed free lunch boxes with phrases like “The revolution must succeed” on Styrofoam.
Protesters later said that the police advanced in their area again and dispersed people.