By THE IRRAWADDY 3 March 2021
YANGON—Myanmar’s protest-related death toll reached its highest point on Wednesday as soldiers and riot police loyal to the country’s military regime killed at least 28 unarmed civilians amid their crackdown on anti-junta protesters in at least four cities.
Anti-regime mass rallies have erupted daily in Myanmar following a military takeover early last month. While denouncing the military dictatorship, protesters have also demanded the release of their democratically elected leaders, the President U Win Myint, the State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and others detained by the regime.
As recently as Sunday, the country saw more than 12 fatalities in a single day.
Since the onset of a deadly crackdown against protesters in late February, at least 49 people have been killed by security forces. That number is very likely to increase because there are many who have been seriously injured.
Following the bloody Sunday attacks on the protesters, the regime announced that security forces had been ordered not to use live bullets during crowd control.
That did not hold true.
On Wednesday, Yangon’s North Okkalapa Township suffered at least 15 deaths as soldiers and police fired live rounds into crowds of protesters.
At least six people were killed in Monywa in Sagaing Region. The town had also faced a violent crackdown as recently as Saturday.
Mandalay in central Myanmar saw yet another bloody day as a downtown sit-in was crushed by the excessive use of force. At least three protesters were shot dead in their heads and chests.
Protesters in Myin Chan in Mandalay Region, Magwe and Mawlamyine also faced deadly crackdowns. The areas reported one, two, and one deaths respectively.
On Wednesday, many were believed to be wounded, including some rescue workers. Videos show them being seriously beaten and kicked by police after being pulled out of an ambulance.
Several hundred protesters were reportedly arrested. In Yangon’s Tamwe Township alone, live streaming videos show at least 200 civilians being detained and taken away in army trucks in the afternoon.
Since the coup, the military regime in Myanmar has been condemned internationally.
The violence on Wednesday came a day after an ASEAN meeting where foreign ministers from Southeast Asian neighbors urged the generals to use restraint. Myanmar is a bloc member.
However, due to its non-interference policy, the bloc is largely regarded as toothless.
On Wednesday, ASEAN could not reach an agreement to call for the releases of the country leaders the President U Win Myint and the State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and restoration of democracy.