YANGON: At least five anti-coup protesters were killed on Sunday as demonstrators across Myanmar continued to defy military rule, as a group of ousted MPs urged them to “defend themselves” during the nation’s “darkest moment”, reports AFP.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power in a February 1 putsch, triggering a mass uprising that has seen hundreds of thousands protest daily for a return to democracy.The junta has repeatedly justified its power grab by alleging widespread electoral fraud in November’s elections, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide.
In response, a group of elected MPs, many of whom are in hiding, have formed a shadow “parliament” called the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) — the Burmese word for the country’s governing bloc—to denounce the military regime.
On Sunday, they issued a statement saying protesters had the “full right to defend themselves” under the country’s penal code against security forces who are “harming and causing violence”.
Soldiers and police have in recent weeks been staging near-daily crackdowns against demonstrators calling for a return to democracy, deploying tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds to quell anti-coup protests. More than 80 have been killed in the unrest, according to a local monitoring group, but the number is expected to increase dramatically after Sunday’s violence in commercial hub Yangon.
Security forces opened fire on protesters in Hlaing Tharyar, one of the largest townships in Yangon, and some protesters wielding sticks and knives fought back while others fled—carrying away the injured and bundling them into cars.
A doctor at a private hospital treating the injured confirmed the use of both live rounds and rubber bullets.Another doctor on the ground told AFP at least three had died—corroborating local media outlet The Irrawaddy—but said the death toll is expected to climb.
“Three died in front of me while I was giving treatment. I’m sending another two to hospital.