Myanmar, police, military fire upon protesters in Mandalay

By Carola Frentzen

BANGKOK – Myanmar police and military forces fired at peaceful protesters during demonstrations in the northern city of Mandalay on Monday (15), according to local media reports.

News portal Frontier Myanmar cited a journalist who said police and soldiers shot randomly into people’s homes.

Images posted on social media showed people injured by what appeared to be rubber bullets. It was not clear whether security forces had also used live ammunition and if people had died.

Videos posted on Twitter showed police forces marching through the streets with batons.

The reporter cited by Frontier Myanmar spoke of several arrests.

Protesters in Myanmar have for 10 days been calling for the reinstatement of a civilian government under Aung San Suu Kyi and for her release, after the military staged a coup and detained the former civilian leader.

There were other clashes on Monday, including in Yangon, where demonstrators were undaunted by a heavy military presence and an overnight internet blackout.

The violence prompted a call for peace from the United Nations.

“Ongoing arrests of political leaders, government officials, civil society actors and media representatives are deeply concerning as are the restrictions on internet and communication services. They must not be disrupted to ensure the right to freedom of expression, which includes access to information,” read a statement released by Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson to Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

On Sunday (14), police in the northern city of Myitkyina opened fire on people protesting. Videos shared on Twitter showed people scattering in panic. It was not known whether anyone was injured or if the security forces were using rubber bullets or live ammunition.

Meanwhile, a court hearing for Suu Kyi scheduled for Monday has been postponed until Wednesday (17), regional newspaper The Irrawaddy reported.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s court hearing scheduled for today has been postponed until Wednesday. Stay tuned for the full story,” The Irrawaddy tweeted, using an honorific title for Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi is to be charged with violating the country’s foreign trade laws following the military coup.

The 75-year-old is to remain in custody until her first hearing. It was unclear whether she would appear in court in person or be appear by video link.

The coup on February 1 followed an election in November in which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide, but which the military says was fraudulent without providing any evidence.

The army imposed a year-long state of emergency and installed what it claims will be only an interim government before new elections are held.

Political leaders including Suu Kyi were detained in the wake of the coup.

However, Suu Kyi has not been seen for two weeks. Attempts by US authorities to contact her have been rejected by the military.

Her lawyer had also stated that she was not allowed to meet her personally, the news portal Myanmar Times quoted the lawyer as saying.


Medics treat a protester, who was injured while demonstrating against the military coup, in an ambulance in Mandalay on Monday (15) – STR / AFP

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