MANDALAY, March 11: Spurning an appeal by the United Nations to top using lethal force against peaceful demonstrators, security forces in Myanmar on Thursday fatally shot at least 10 people protesting against last month’s military coup.
The military also lodged a new allegation against Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected leader it ousted on February 1.
It charged at a news conference in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, that in 2017-18 she was illegally given USD 600,000 and gold bars worth slightly less by a political ally, former Yangon Division Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein.
Military spokesman Brig Gen Zaw Min Tun said Phyo Min Thein had admitted giving the money and gold to Suu Kyi, but presented no evidence.
The accusation was clearly aimed at discrediting Suu Kyi, and perhaps charging her with a serious crime. She and President Win Myint are both being detained on less serious allegations.
Myanmar has been roiled by protests and other acts of civil disobedience since the coup toppled Suu Kyi’s government just as it was to start its second term. The takeover reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in the Southeast Asian nation after five decades of military rule.
Local press reports and posts on social media on Thursday said there were six deaths in Myaing, a town in the central Magway Region, and one each in Yangon, Mandalay, Bago and Taungoo. In many cases, photos of what were said to be the bodies of the dead were posted online.
Security forces have attacked previous protests with live ammunition as well, leading to the deaths of about 60 people. They have also employed tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and stun grenades. Many demonstrators have been brutally beaten.
In New York, the UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously called for a reversal of the military coup and strongly condemned the violence against peaceful protesters.
It also called for “utmost restraint” by the military.
A presidential statement approved by all 15 council members was formally adopted at a virtual meeting.
The British-drafted statement calls for the immediate release of government leaders, including Suu Kyi and Win Myint.
It supports the country’s democratic transition and “stresses the need to uphold democratic institutions.”
The human rights group Amnesty International on Thursday issued a report saying Myanmar’s military “is using increasingly lethal tactics and weapons normally seen on the battlefield against peaceful protesters and bystanders across the country.”
The London-based group said its examination of more than 50 videos from the crackdown confirmed that “security forces appear to be implementing planned, systematic strategies including the ramped-up use of lethal force. – AP