Burma experienced the most severe violence on Saturday since the February 1 coup. In Mandalay, in the center of the country, two demonstrators were killed and around thirty wounded by gunfire from the police during an anti-junta rally.
Several hundred police were deployed in the afternoon to a shipyard in the country’s second city, raising fears of arrests of employees mobilized against the coup. Protesters banged on pots in an attempt to prevent arrests, some throwing projectiles at the police who then fired.
Two people died, including a minor who was shot in the head, rescuers told AFP, reporting about 30 injured. According to them, half of the victims were targeted by live ammunition, the others were injured by rubber ammunition and slingshot fire.
The live ammunition was also confirmed by doctors working in the field, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. More than a dozen people were arrested, according to local media.
Thousands of protesters
This escalation in violence comes the day after the death of a 20-year-old grocer, shot and wounded on February 9.
The junta in power since the coup continues to increase the pressure on the pro-democracy movement. Despite this, several thousand protesters, including representatives of many ethnic minorities in traditional dress, again took to the streets of Rangoon, the economic capital, on Saturday.
They demand the return of civilian government, the release of detainees and the abolition of the Constitution which is very favorable to the military. Near Shwedagon Pagoda in the city center, a funeral wreath has been placed in homage to the young grocer.
Almost three weeks after the putsch that overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and put an end to a fragile 10-year democratic transition, the concert of international protests and the announcement of new sanctions do not sway the generals.
Hundreds of arrests
The arrests continue with nearly 550 people arrested, according to an NGO providing assistance to political prisoners. Only about 40 have been released.
Protests have gathered hundreds of thousands of Burmese across the country over the past two weeks. This rebellion has been unprecedented since “the saffron revolution” in 2007, a movement bloodily suppressed by the army.
Fear of reprisals is very strong in Burma which has already lived under the yoke of the military for more than 50 years since its independence in 1948. Despite this, calls for civil disobedience continue with doctors, teachers, air traffic controllers and railway workers. still on strike.
The crisis remains at the heart of the international agenda. European Union foreign ministers will meet on Monday to discuss possible measures against the military.
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