Conflicts & War

Pro-Myanmar junta demonstration turns violent in Yangon

(Update 1: Adds detail of pro-junta march, re-ledes, alters headline, offers new info)

Yangon, Myanmar, Feb 25 (efe-epa).- Violent clashes erupted between supporters of Myanmar’s military junta and anti-coup protesters in downtown Yangon Thursday resulting in at least one person being stabbed.

Around a thousand pro-junta demonstrators gathered in the center of the country’s former capital in the early morning. Groups of civilians observing the march waved money bills at the march in reference to the accusation that they are paid to demonstrate in favor of the junta that took power in a coup on Feb. 1.

There were violent altercations later in the day when junta supporters arrived at the central train station in Yangon and were met by a group of workers banging pots and pans in protest against the coup.

The pro-junta group responded by throwing rocks, which caused the violence to escalate. CCTV footage from the scene appeared to show the moment an anti-protester was stabbed by a junta supporter.

Activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi said on Twitter that the injured protester was taken for medical treatment.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Myanmar almost every day since the military coup calling on the armed forces to return power to the civilian government of deposed de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest.

At least eight people have been killed in Myanmar, including three shot by police, in post-coup violence, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

While the official number of deaths stands at three, which includes those protesters that have been shot dead with live ammunition in clashes with security forces so far, the AAPP also counts the case of a 26-year-old man, who died in custody, as well as four others who lost their lives in nighttime clashes between pro-military supporters and protesters.

According to the association, 728 people have been arrested since the coup, including 62 who were subsequently released.

The police response has generated a wave of condemnations from around the world including from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the European Union and the G7 countries.

Facebook announced that it was banning all accounts linked to the Myanmar military. The social media platform has also banned advertisements from military-linked commercial entities.

“Events since the Feb. 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban. We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” the company said.

The military justified its Feb. 1 seizure of power by claiming fraud in the November election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide, as it did in 2015.

Despite the holding of elections and the start of a process in 2011 towards a “disciplined democracy” as described by the military, which ruled the country with an iron fist between 1962 and 2011, the military leadership still had a stronghold over the country’s politics and economy. EFE-EPA


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