Burma is preparing this Sunday for the funeral of the first victim of military repression, a 20-year-old grocer who has become an icon of the anti-junta resistance, in the aftermath of the deadliest violence since the coup d’état with two demonstrators killed by the police.
Almost three weeks after the putsch of February 1, pro-democracy mobilization is not weakening from the big cities to the remote villages of the country. Faced with this, despite the concert of international protests, the army continues to increase the pressure, with more and more incidents reported in recent days. This Saturday, tensions quickly intensified in Mandalay (center) between the police and anti-junta protesters including striking workers at a shipyard.
A country in shock
Fearing the arrests of construction workers, some demonstrators threw projectiles at the police who fired. “Two people died, including a minor who was shot in the head and around 30 were injured,” said Hlaing Min Oo, head of a volunteer rescue team. According to him, “half of the victims were targeted by live ammunition”, the others were injured by rubber ammunition and slingshot fire.
The live ammunition was also confirmed by medics working in the field, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. More than a dozen people were arrested, according to local media. The country woke up in shock. ” Where is the justice ? “,” Stop terrorism “,” How many lives must be taken before the world reacts? », We could read on social networks.
Escalation of violence
Tributes began the day before in Rangoon, the economic capital, demonstrators placing white and red roses in front of his portrait with little messages: “You are our martyr”, “We will not forget you”. The junta, for its part, reported the death of a police officer earlier this week.
This escalation of violence sparked new international condemnations. “The use of lethal force, intimidation and harassment against peaceful protesters is unacceptable,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted overnight from Saturday to Sunday.
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, called on “the army and the police to put an immediate end to violence against civilians”, indicating that the European Union would “take the appropriate decisions”. EU foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday to discuss possible sanctions.
Coercive measures targeting only certain generals – as is the case with those announced by the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – will not suffice, several NGOs have warned, urging to also target powerful conglomerates controlled by the United States. military. Beijing and Moscow, traditional allies of the Burmese army at the United Nations, consider the crisis to be “an internal affair” in the country.
Internet cut for the seventh consecutive night
The junta ignores the condemnations. Waves of arrests of politicians, activists and strikers continue. Nearly 570 people have been arrested since February 1, and only about 40 released, according to an NGO providing assistance to political prisoners.
Internet connections were cut for the seventh consecutive night, before being restored in the morning. The fear of reprisals is very strong in Burma where the last popular uprisings of 1988 and 2007 were bloodily suppressed by the army.
Release of detainees requested
Despite this, alongside the street protests, calls for civil disobedience continue with doctors, teachers, air traffic controllers and railway workers still on strike. The protesters demand the abolition of the constitution which is very favorable to the military, the return of the civilian government and the release of detainees, including Aung San Suu Kyi, 75 years old.
The ex-leader, held in secret since her arrest, is indicted for non-political reasons, accused of having “illegally” imported walkie-talkies and of having violated a law on the management of natural disasters. A hearing is scheduled for March 1.
The military justified their coup by citing fraud in the November legislative elections, which was won overwhelmingly by the party of the Nobel Peace Prize. They promised new elections.