Myanmar security forces on March 3 fired on protesters, as a UN envoy said 38 died in the Southeast Asian country’s “bloodiest” day since the military coup last month.
Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1 when the military ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ending the nation’s decade-long experiment with democracy and sparking daily mass protests.
International pressure is mounting – Western powers have repeatedly hit the generals with sanctions, and Britain has called for a UN Security Council meeting on March 5.
But the junta has ignored the global condemnation, responding to the uprising with escalating strength.
“Only today, 38 people died,” UN envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told reporters on March 3, adding that more than 50 people had died in total since the military takeover, with many more wounded.
“Today was the bloodiest day since the coup happened,” she noted, without providing any further details, including a breakdown of the deaths.
She called for the UN to take “very strong measures” against the generals, adding that in her conversations with them they had dismissed the threat of sanctions.
Earlier, AFP recorded at least 17 deaths across Myanmar on March 3, with Monywa in the central Sagaing region registering at least seven.
“What we can confirm is seven people have died,” said an emergency doctor, who declined to provide his name.
Multiple medics also said they saw two other individuals being dragged away by security forces, though they could not get close enough to confirm if they had died.
In the outskirts of commercial hub Yangon at least six demonstrators died, according to a rescue worker and local journalist.
Parts of the city were transformed, with protesters using makeshift tyres and barbed wire barricades to block major roads.
Near the famed Sule pagoda intersection, protesters pasted print-outs of junta leader Min Aung Hlaing’s face on the ground – a tactic aimed at slowing down security forces who will avoid standing on the portraits.
In Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city, two demonstrators were killed, a doctor confirmed to AFP, adding that one of the victims was 19 years old and was shot in the head.
Another 19-year-old protester, engineering student Aung Myint Myat, died after being shot in Salin.
“It was my friend who was shot in his forehead and died in the hospital,” said Min Pyae Phyo, through tears.
“They shouldn’t have used such lethal force against the peaceful protesters. I won’t forget and forgive them the rest of my life,” he said.
And a demonstration in Myingyan turned deadly when security forces deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds against protesters carrying red home-made shields emblazoned with the three-finger salute – a symbol of resistance for the anti-coup movement.
Several medics confirmed a young man was gunned down.
Local media in northern Kachin state also reported similar scenes of violence, publishing images of police bearing down on protesters in Hpakant.