19 year-old protester dies in Myanmar’s anti-military demonstration
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
This is the largest protest since 2007
By: Julie Sulser
Following the military coup earlier this month, thousands of people have again taken to the streets in Myanmar to join anti-military protests. The protests are part of what is dubbed as the civil disobedience movement, which has gained much traction over the past few weeks and has included boycotting of military-owned products, roadblocks, as well as strikes by teachers, doctors, and railway staff.
They are the largest anti-military demonstrations since the Saffron Revolution in 2007, when thousands of Buddhist monks took to the streets.
The movement’s aim is the undermining and rejection of military rule following the coup. Furthermore, they are demanding the release of ousted state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other government officials who have been detained ever since the coup took place. Aung San Suu Kyi was initially charged with the possession of illegal walkie-talkies, and the military has since added a violation of the Natural Disaster Law to her charges. The details remain unclear at the moment.
Photo courtesy of Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) Licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo was taken during a protest in the previous years, used for illustrative purposes.
While the military has stated it will be ‘patient’ with the protests and has held off larger crackdowns on protesters in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, this has been a different story for other cities where military crackdowns on protestors are becoming increasingly violent.
Security forces are not only using rubber bullets, water cannons, and tear gas, but also life ammunition.
Just on Friday the 19th, a 19-year-old protester died in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital city, after being shot in the head by security forces. On Saturday the 20th, two more people were killed and 20 people were injured when police opened fire on a group of protestors in Mandalay.
The military has also reacted to the protests by imposing night-time curfews and limitations on social gatherings, and are conducting night-time raids and arrests of protesters. During a night-time attack on a housing complex of Myanmar Railways on the evening of Wednesday, the 17th of February, following their anti-military strike, at least one person was injured and several are said to be detained. On Friday, the number of people detained reached 546, according to Myanmar's Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Despite this, Myanmar’s citizens are continuing to bang on pots and pans every night and are joining protests during the day to express their rejection and defiance of the coup.
In reaction to the coup, the US has imposed sanctions, such as freezing US held assets of military-owned companies, army generals and now acting President Min Aung Hlaing and his deputy, as well as other top-ranking military personnel. Furthermore, the US is planning to block the military from accessing around 1 billion dollars of government funds that are held in the US. The UK and Canada followed suit and have also imposed a travel ban and asset freezes on top military personnel.