Myanmar security forces opened fire on some of the largest anti-military demonstrations in days on Sunday (May 2), killing eight protesters, according to media reports, three months after the country was thrown into chaos by a coup.
The protests were organized with demonstrations in Myanmar communities around the world to mark what organizers called “the global Myanmar spring revolution,” after a period of dwindling crowds and what seemed to be further restraint by the security forces.
“Shake the world with the voice of Myanmar people’s unity,” the organisers said in a statement.Streams of demonstrators, some led by Buddhist monks, marched through cities and towns across the country, including Yangon, the country’s commercial capital, and Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, where two people were shot and killed, according to the Mizzima news agency.
The Irrawaddy news site had previously published a photograph of a man dressed in civilian clothes taking aim with a rifle in Mandalay.Two people were killed in separate towns in Shan State in the northeast, according to two media sources. Three people were killed in the central town of Wetlet, according to the Myanmar Now news agency.
According to the Kachin News Group, one person was also killed in the northern jade-mining town of Hpakant.
The claims were unconfirmed by Reuters, and a spokesman for the ruling junta did not respond to requests for comment. The generals’ Feb. 1 ouster of the elected government headed by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has resulted in a slew of problems.According to UN figures, wars with ethnic minority rebels in remote border regions in the north and east have escalated dramatically after the coup, displacing tens of thousands of civilians.
Civilians armed with makeshift arms have clashed with security forces in some regions, while military and government installations that have been safe for decades have been targeted by rocket attacks and a rash of small, mysterious blasts in central areas.
The blasts have elicited no accusations of responsibility.
A blast was registered outside a police barracks in Yangon early Sunday, according to Khit Thit media. Vehicles were on fire, according to the report, but no injuries were reported.
Later, two more blasts erupted in the district, one of which injured one person outside the home of an administration official, according to the Irrawaddy. A blast was registered outside the home of a prominent businessman, according to a news portal in Shan State. On Saturday, the state-run broadcaster reported on at least 11 explosions in the previous 36 hours, mostly in Yangon, in its evening news bulletin.
“Some rioters who do not want stability of the state have been throwing and planting handmade bombs at government buildings and on public roads,” the broadcaster said.
According to the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, security forces have killed at least 759 protestors since the coup. The death toll has not been confirmed by Reuters. The military, which ruled for nearly 50 years before embarking on a tentative reform phase a decade ago, confirmed the deaths of 248 demonstrators in mid-April, claiming that they were killed after they instigated aggression.
The UN Development Program has warned that demonstrations and a civil disobedience movement of strikes have disrupted the economy and put 25 million people at risk of falling into poverty.The military said it had no choice but to take power because its allegations of fraud in a November election won by Suu Kyi’s party were ignored by an election commission that declared the election fair.
Suu Kyi, 75, and several other members of her party have been detained since the coup.