(Update 1: adds red balloon protest, hundreds released from prison, Suu Kyi hearing postponement, minor edits)
Bangkok Desk, March 24 (efe-epa).- A “silent strike” was held across Myanmar Wednesday after a 7-year-old girl who was shot dead while sitting on her father’s lap in their home became the youngest known victim of security forces crackdowns.
Businesses were shut and the streets of cities including Yangon, Mandalay, Monywa and Bago as well as ethnic minority areas of Myitkyina (Kachin state), Taunggyi (Shan state), and Falam (Chin State), were devoid of both people and vehicles, social media posts of residents showed.
“The whole purpose of the #SilentStrike is to demonstrate we rule the cities. Not the military junta,” Civil Disobedience Movement said on Twitter.
Later, a small protest in Yangon took place with about a dozen people holding red balloons.
The strike comes a day after a 7-year-old girl was killed after being shot in the abdomen by a soldier during a military raid Tuesday in Mandalay, Myanmar Now reported.
The girl’s sister told the outlet that security forces broke into their home in Chanmyathazi township and shot at her father, with the bullet instead hitting Khin Myo Chit, who was sitting in his lap. Two others in the area were also killed.
On Monday in the same township, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead along with seven others when security forces opened fire at a housing complex, the same outlet reported. A funeral for the boy, Tun Tun Aung was held on Tuesday.
The children’s deaths have sparked global outrage and condemnation.
“Is killing a 7 yr old girl a new strategy for Myanmar security?14 yr old boy also killed recently. Plus 14 & 16 yr boys shot dead in the head. More than 20 children killed, among more than 261 killed since the coup,” Yanghee Lee, the former UN special rapporteur for Myanmar, said on Twitter.
Save the Children also expressed concern for at least 17 minors and more than 488 students held in detention.
“We are horrified that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks on peaceful protesters. The death of these children is especially concerning given that they reportedly were killed while being at home, where they should have been safe from harm,” the NGO said.
Since the Feb. 1 military coup, at least 275 people have been killed by security forces and 2,812 detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
More than 600 people, mostly members of student unions detained for protesting and many who were charged with incitement, were released from Yangon’s Insein Prison on Wednesday, including Associated Press photographer Thein Zaw, Myanmar Now tweeted.
Leader Aung San Suu Kyi was scheduled to appear Wednesday by video conference before a court in Naypyitaw, where she is charged with various crimes that her lawyers condemn as fabricated. The hearing did not go ahead due to internet problems and would be rescheduled for Apr. 1, they said.
Internet watchdog NetBlocks said Wednesday the authorities have blocked the network for 38 consecutive nights, while mobile data has been down for 10 days.
The military justify its coup alleging fraud in the November elections, in which Suu Kyi’s party won by a landslide, and which were described as legitimate by international observers. EFE-EPA