Burma is preparing Sunday for the funeral of the first victim of military repression, a 20-year-old grocer who has become an icon of the anti-junta resistance, in the aftermath of the deadliest violence since the coup d’état with two demonstrators killed by the law enforcement.
Almost three weeks after the putsch of February 1, pro-democracy mobilization is not weakening from the big cities to the remote villages of the country.
Several thousand demonstrators marched on Sunday near the main university campus in Yangon, the economic capital, and protesters gathered in Mandalay, the scene of the most severe crackdown since the coup.
In this city in the center of the country, the police shot at anti-junta protesters who came to support workers who had gone on strike in a shipyard, responding to calls for civil disobedience launched against the putsch.
“Two people died, including a minor who was shot in the head” and around 30 were injured, said Hlaing Min Oo, head of a volunteer rescue team.
According to him, “half of the victims were targeted by live ammunition”, the others were injured by rubber ammunition and slingshot fire.
The live ammunition was confirmed by doctors working in the field, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
No mention of the two victims was made in the state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, which instead blamed the protesters for their “aggressive” behavior and said three soldiers and eight police officers were injured.
The country woke up in shock. “Where is the justice?”, “Stop terrorism”, “How many lives must be taken before the world reacts?”, Could we read on social networks.
The funeral of the young grocer Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, gunshot wounded on February 9 and died Friday, will take place this Sunday in Naypyidaw, the administrative capital.
Tributes began in Yangon, with demonstrators reciting the Metta Sutta, a Buddhist prayer.
“We can’t attend her funeral, so we pray for her,” said Ye Lin Tun, an NGO employee.
“We are ready to lose our lives. We will fight to the end, ”assured a 26-year-old protester. “If we are afraid, we will not succeed” in putting an end to the violence by the military.
The escalation of tensions provoked new international condemnations.
“The use of lethal force, intimidation and harassment against peaceful protesters is unacceptable,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted overnight from Saturday to Sunday.
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, called on “the army and the police to put an immediate end to the violence against civilians”, indicating that the European Union will “take the appropriate decisions”.
EU foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday to discuss possible sanctions.
Sanction the conglomerates?
Sanctions targeting only certain generals – as is the case with those announced by the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – will not be enough, several NGOs have warned, urging to also target powerful conglomerates controlled by the military. .
Beijing and Moscow, traditional allies of the Burmese army at the United Nations, consider the crisis to be “an internal affair” in the country.
The junta ignores the condemnations.
Waves of arrests of politicians, activists and strikers continue. Nearly 570 people have been arrested since February 1, and only about 40 released, according to an NGO providing assistance to political prisoners.
Actor Lu Min, head of protests in Yangon, was arrested on the night of Saturday to Sunday, his wife announced, in tears on social networks.
Internet connections were cut for the seventh consecutive night, before being restored in the morning.
Facebook, for its part, announced that it had blocked the army’s “Tatmadaw True News Information Team” page for inciting violence. The generals used it to justify their putsch and alleged fraud in the November elections, which were won overwhelmingly by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.
The fear of reprisals is very strong in Burma where the last popular uprisings of 1988 and 2007 were bloodily suppressed by the military.
Despite this, alongside the street protests, calls for civil disobedience continue with doctors, teachers, air traffic controllers and railway workers still on strike.
The protesters demand the abolition of the constitution which is very favorable to the army, the return of the civilian government and the release of the detainees, including Aung San Suu Kyi, 75 years old.
The ex-leader, held in secret since her arrest, is indicted for non-political reasons, accused of having “illegally” imported walkie-talkies and of having violated a law on the management of natural disasters. A hearing is scheduled for March 1.