Home News Three protesters killed as Myanmar workers go on strike

Three protesters killed as Myanmar workers go on strike

Three protesters killed as Myanmar workers go on strike

Protesters react after tear gas is fired by police during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon. — AFP photo

YANGON: Three anti-coup protesters were shot dead in Myanmar on Monday as demonstrators across the country sought to paralyse the economy with strike action following a weekend of night raids and arrests.

The country has been in turmoil since a February 1 coup ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and triggered mass protests against the new military junta.

The police and military have responded with an increasingly brutal crackdown on demonstrators, with more than 50 people killed and nearly 1,800 arrested.

Despite the risk, protesters rallied in parts of the commercial capital Yangon, the second-largest city Mandalay and other towns around the country.

In the northern city of Myitkyina, security forces used tear gas and opened fire during street clashes with stone-throwing protesters.

A live Facebook stream of the incident showed protesters dragging multiple wounded demonstrators away by the arms and legs.

A poignant image in local media showed a Catholic nun in a white habit on her knees in the street, pleading with police to show restraint.

“Two men were shot dead on the spot, three others including a woman were shot in the arm,” a medic told AFP. “We are about to send the dead bodies to the families.”

A third protester was shot dead in the town of Pyapon in the Irrawaddy Delta region, an eyewitness and a rescue official told AFP.

In Yangon, security forces raided the office of independent media outlet Myanmar Now.

“I can confirm that our office was raided in the afternoon today by a group of soldiers and police,” editor-in-chief Swe Win told AFP. “They took desktop computers, parts of our data server and a printer.”

Banks, stores, shopping malls and some clothing factories were closed following an appeal by trade unions for a general strike to bring the economy to a standstill.

“To continue economic and business activities as usual… will only benefit the military as they repress the energy of the Myanmar people,” 18 unions said in a statement. “The time to take action in defence of our democracy is now.”

Unions are seeking to extend the impact of an ongoing “Civil Disobedience Movement” – a campaign urging civil servants to boycott working under military rule – which has already hit state machinery hard.

The impact has been felt at every level of the national infrastructure, with hospital disruptions, empty ministry offices, and banks unable to operate.

The junta has warned that civil servants “will be fired” with immediate effect Monday if they continue to strike.

After a restless night with security forces sent to multiple neighbourhoods and shots heard in some areas, parts of Yangon woke to police pre-emptively breaking up protest barricades.

“Police and soldiers started clearing off Kyuntaw Road in Sanchaung township. They used sound bombs to stop protesters gathering,” a resident told AFP.

“They are now using a bulldozer to remove the barriers protesters have made.”

Reports emerged overnight that security forces had taken over several public hospitals in Yangon.

Physicians for Human Rights said it was appalled by these moves, calling them a violation of international law.

“One eyewitness account detailed armed security forces entering and seeking to occupy West Yangon General Hospital by force,” the group said, adding it had reliable information that five other Yangon hospitals were being occupied with similar situations elsewhere in Myanmar.

“Even though medical personnel vacated their government posts to initiate the civil disobedience movement, many returned to government hospitals in response to escalating violence against peaceful protesters.” — AFP

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