At least one killed in Myanmar as funerals held amid anti-coup protests
(Update 1: adds death of protester, Yangon funerals, updates electricity outage information, changes headline, lede, rewrites, minor edits)
Yangon, Myanmar, Mar 5 (efe-epa).- At least one person was shot dead and hundreds flashed the three-finger salute at funerals held in Myanmar on Friday as defiant anti-coup demonstrations continued across the country.
Anti-coup protesters took to the streets in several cities despite deadly repression by security forces that has already killed more than 50 people.
Protests were taking place in Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyitaw, Monywa, Myingyan, Bagan and elsewhere after security forces killed at least 38 demonstrators on Wednesday alone, the bloodiest day since the Feb. 1 military coup.
Hundreds protested Friday in the streets of Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, wearing white helmets and carrying makeshift shields.
In the afternoon, 27-year-old bystander Ko Zaw Myo was shot dead by security forces when they opened fire, a person at the scene told Efe.
In Yangon, demonstrators were dispersed by security forces with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets, but regrouped to continue their protests into the afternoon.
Three funerals also took place in the city for Arkar Moe, Pho Chit and Zwee Htet Soe, who were killed during a protest on Wednesday. Mourning families, friends and residents flashed defiant three-finger salutes.
In Mingyan, hundreds of mourners also held up the three-finger salute at the funeral of Zin Ko Ko Zaw, who was shot dead there by security forces on Wednesday, according to Myanmar Now.
In the capital, Naypyitaw, where there have been large-scale arrests, Friday’s protest was comprised of a small group of some 30 people that dispersed as soon as the police appeared, local media Frontier Myanmar reported.
The fierce crackdowns on anti-coup protests have claimed at least 54 lives so far, all at the hands of military and police forces, according to the United Nations’ human rights office.
The UN agency said that this figure only included the cases it has documented and added that deaths are likely to be considerably higher, and “at a minimum, hundreds have been wounded.”
“It is utterly abhorrent that security forces are firing live ammunition against peaceful protesters across the country,” Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Friday that it was a “national shame” for Myanmar’s armed forces to use weapons against their own people.
“The use of lethal force against unarmed civilians is inexcusable under any circumstances. The immediate concern is to step back from a rapidly deteriorating situation,” he said during a parliamentary session, local TV station Channel News Asia reported.
Singapore’s remarks on Myanmar are of particular significance given the city-state’s large foreign investment in the country, as well as its position as part of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc, which has traditionally practiced a policy of non-interference in other member states’ domestic affairs.
The UN Security Council plans to address the situation in the country Friday in a closed-door video call.
Meanwhile, residents around Myanmar reported widespread electricity cuts that lasted around three hours in the early afternoon. The Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation told Efe the cause was a “system breakdown.”
The military junta has been cutting off internet access every night for weeks as part of repressive measures against the population, which has launched a movement of civil disobedience against the junta.
Also on Friday, YouTube announced the blocking of five military-run television channels hosted on its platform in response to the violence carried out by the military junta.