Myanmar death toll mounts amid protests, military crackdown

Saturday, 03 Apr, 2021

Beijing also insisted on softening a reference to the "killing" of hundreds of civilians and changing it to civilian "deaths".

Media reported two people were killed, including an 18-year-old man, as police opened fire to quell gatherings.

In areas controlled by the Karen, more than a dozen civilians have been killed and over 20,000 displaced since March 27, according to the Free Burma Rangers, a relief agency operating in the region.

On Friday, most Myanmar citizens woke up to no internet access after telecoms companies received instructions from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to stop wireless broadband internet services.

Protest leader Khin Sadar called in a Facebook post in anticipation of the internet blackout for people to join as many "guerrilla protests" as possible, referring quick demonstrations in unusual places that break up when security forces appear.

"Let's listen to the radio again".

The military did not announce or explain its order to providers to cut wireless broadband. Access to mobile networks and all wireless - the less costly options used by most people in the developing country - remained blocked on Saturday.

Reuters could not immediately verify the reports and a junta spokesperson did not answer calls seeking comment.

Any U.N. resolutions for actions such as a comprehensive ban on weapons sales to Myanmar would nearly certainly be vetoed by China or Russian Federation, which are political allies of the junta as well as major suppliers of arms to the military. The three-fingered salute from the Hunger Games movies has become a common gesture of defiance. One arrangement of dandelions and red roses on a lakeside walkway read: "Myanmar is bleeding".

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a non-profit, at least 543 people have been killed by military forces since the coup. The military has repeatedly said those killed had instigated violence.

"The military junta's widespread use of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances appears created to strike fear in the hearts of anti-coup protesters", said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch's Asia director. The commission has dismissed that assertion.

Suu Kyi and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) have been detained. While Suu Kyi's five years as the nation's effective leader have represented a brief period of relative democracy, the country's authorities have continued to apply repressive colonial-era laws and engage in ethnic conflict.

Territory in the northern Kachin state - held by the Kachin Independence Army - has also seen a recent step-up in military activity.

The group urged the worldwide community to stop selling "all explosive weaponry large and small, any advanced technology that is used to propagate war and jet fighters" to the armed forces. The charges were filed against three of Suu Kyi's deposed cabinet ministers and her Australian economic adviser Sean Turnell, who are among hundreds detained in the military's sweeping crackdown on opponents since it took power, alleging fraud in an election swept by Suu Kyi's party. Worldwide efforts including sanctions imposed by Western nations on the junta have failed to restore peace. But neither China nor India, which compete for influence, have denounced the civilian government's overthrow.

Global powers have sought to pile pressure on the military by hitting its sprawling business interests, which include the country's lucrative jade and ruby trade. But there is growing dismay with a country that has for decades raised worldwide concerns over its domestic repression.

Inside Myanmar, an opposition group consisting of ousted lawmakers on Wednesday declared the country's 2008 constitution, drafted under military direction, void and put forward an interim replacement charter in another challenge to the junta.