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Myanmar forces continue violent crackdown as protesters mourn

Myanmar forces continue violent crackdown as protesters mourn

dpa
Yangon
Security forces in Myanmar cracked down on demonstrations again on Thursday, using tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds, even as anti-coup protesters turned out to remember the dead from the previous day of clashes.
People gathered across the country to pay respect to those killed, placing flowers in their memory and singing pro-democracy songs.
Local media such as Myanmar Now and Radio Free Asia Burmese reported security forces using violence against protesters in several neighbourhoods of the biggest city Yangon with some people injured, though no numbers were given.
“Our protest started today at 9:30 [0300 GMT] in the morning and the police came to us and broke up the demonstrations,” Nyan Win Shein, a 31-year-old protester from the South Okkalapa township in Yangon, told dpa.
“Our strike for today is successful even though the army tried to break it up,” Nyi Nyi, 37, a protester who lives in the Sanchaung township in Yangon, told dpa.
Protesters vowed to continue demonstrating against last month’s military coup and were apparently not dissuaded by the violence seen on Wednesday and Thursday.
Christine Schraner Burgener, the UN special envoy for Myanmar, said her agency counted 38 dead on Wednesday, making it the bloodiest day since the February 1 coup.
There were fears the death toll could rise, since some people were seriously injured after security forces responded to protests with live ammunition. One man from Monywa city on Thursday reportedly passed away from the injuries incurred on Wednesday.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), more than 50 people have been killed in the protests to date.
Singapore’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday told Singaporeans in Myanmar to “consider leaving as soon as they can by commercial means while it is still possible to do so,” citing the violence.
Meanwhile, the protesters said they would not stop.
“We have to do what we should do. We have to fight for justice and for the souls we lost because of this terrorist army,” Wai Wai, 45, told dpa by phone from Mandalay.
She was at the funeral of a 19-year-old protester who died after being shot in the head in that city.
Another protester, from Monywa, where six died on Wednesday, told dpa by phone that the violence was actually bringing more protesters out into the streets.
“This is not the way to rule the country by killing people. The army thinks that the civilians will be afraid if they kill us but it is not true,” said the protester, who wished to remain unnamed.
Protesters have demanded an end to military control and want de facto leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi to be set free. She is under house arrest and faces charges ranging from sowing disorder to illegally importing walkie talkies.
Coup leaders have alleged without proof that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy engaged in vote tampering in November elections.
But outside analysts point out that Suu Kyi’s party is very popular in the country and that it is more likely that the military is shocked by how poorly it did in the polls.
The country’s constitution guarantees the military control of key agencies and enough seats in the legislature so that it can block critical changes.

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