At least 18 people were killed and more than 30 injured in Myanmar on Sunday, as security forces confronted peaceful demonstrators using live ammunitions and tear gas in several cities including Yangon, Dawei and Mandalay as police.
The violence against the protesters was condemned by the UN rights office that claimed it had “credible information” of the bloody crackdown.
“The people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy,” spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said. “Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms.”
Social media footage from Sunday showed protesters running away as police charged at them, makeshift roadblocks being erected, and several people being led away covered in blood.
Security forces began the violent crackdown on Saturday, after weeks of largely peaceful protests against the Feb. 01 military takeover.
The police crackdown was expanded on Sunday as coup leaders sought to quash a civil disobedience campaign that has shown no sign of ending.
Deaths were reported in several cities including Yangon, Dawei and Mandalay. The UN said deaths had also been reported in Myeik, Bago and Pokokku.
Activists and medical workers said at least four people had been killed in the largest city, Yangon, as police fired bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.
The protesters remained defiant. “If they push us, we’ll rise. If they attack us, we’ll defend. We’ll never kneel down to the military boots,” Nyan Win Shein told Reuters.
Another protester, Amy Kyaw, told AFP: “Police started shooting just as we arrived. They didn’t say a word of warning. Some got injured and some teachers are still hiding in neighbours’ houses.”
Some demonstrators were herded away in police vans.
In the south-eastern city of Dawei, security forces moved to break up a rally. There are reports of live rounds being used. Four people were killed in the city, activists told the BBC.
Police also cracked down on a large rally in Mandalay, where police used water cannon and fired into the air. One person was killed there, the BBC has been told.
The number of arrests since the protests began has not been confirmed. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group has put the figure at 850, but hundreds more appear to have been detained this weekend.
Activists held rallies across Asia, including in Taipei and Hong Kong, to support the protesters in Myanmar.
In Bangkok, police used tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators who were also calling for the resignation of the Thai prime minister.
Myanmar’s civilian leader has not been seen in public since she was detained in the capital Nay Pyi Taw as the coup began.
Her supporters and many in the international community have demanded her release and the restoration of the November election result that saw her National League for Democracy party win a landslide.
Ms Suu Kyi is scheduled to face court proceedings on Monday on charges of possessing unregistered walkie-talkies and violating coronavirus rules. But her lawyer says he has been unable to speak to her. (Source: BBC)