03/01/2021, 08.27
MYANMAR
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Protests do not stop as UN reports 18 killed and over 30 injured

by Francis Khoo Thwe

Demonstrations in Yangon and Lashio. The UN condemns the use of lethal bullets, tear gas and stun grenades against protesters. Aung San Suu Kyi in court. A Yangon police chief, Tin Min Tun, says he "does not want to serve under the present military regime." Tom Andrews, UN human rights expert in Myanmar: Words are insufficient. Action must be taken.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Demonstrations continue today in different parts of the country, after yesterday's bloody toll on marchers. Protesters shout that "democracy is our cause" and that they will fight "to the end", while the army seems to have raised the level of violence against civilians.

In the economic capital, the police used armoured vehicles and fire hydrants to disperse the crowds that gathered in different neighbourhoods; other marches are registered in Lashio (in Shan State).

On social networks and verbally, the protesters shout that what they are experiencing is not a "social unrest" (the definition used by the military junta), but "it is violence caused by Gen. Min Aung Hlaing ", the supreme head of the army and the coup d'état.

Yesterday, in several cities, and especially in Yangon, the police and the army opened fire on the crowd, killing, throwing tear gas and charging demonstrators. Christian and Buddhist religious men and women demonstrated asking the policemen not to shoot the people (photos 2 and 3).

According to the UN Human Rights Office, ""Police and military forces have confronted peaceful demonstrations, using lethal force and less-than-lethal force that – according to credible information received by the UN Human Rights Office – has left at least 18 people dead and over 30 wounded.”

“Deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pokokku. Tear gas was also reportedly used in various locations as well as flash-bang and stun grenades" the UN office said.

Yet the population continues to demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who today presented herself before the judges, accused of illegally buying walkie talkies and violating anti-Covid directives.

Meanwhile, defections from the police force are growing, in addition to the demonstrators. Today a video was released in which a major of the Yangon police, Tin Min Tun (photo 4), declared that he "does not want to serve under the present military regime". On social media, he recalls having served the police since 1989 and states: “If this military regime remains in power, we will not achieve what we want in the next 20 or 25 years. We will lose once again”.

Condemnations is also growing among the international community, but the ASEAN countries, along with China, Russia and India, remain rather cautious and eager not to break with the new military leaders.

Tom Andrews, UN expert on human rights in Myanmar has called for greater involvement of the international community against the junta. He proposed an embargo on arms sold and sanctions from multiple nations against those responsible for the coup, as well as a complaint to the International Tribunal.

“The words of condemnation are welcome - he added, but they are insufficient. We have to act”.

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