Conflicts & War

Student injured by rubber bullet on day of mass Myanmar protests

Yangon, Myanmar, Feb 12 (efe-epa).- At least one person was shot with a rubber bullet and arrests were reported as Myanmar on Friday witnessed possibly its largest protests since the Feb. 1 military coup.

On the public Union Day holiday at a peaceful demonstration at Mawlamyine University in Mon state, about 300 kilometers southeast of Yangon, a student was shot with a rubber bullet, an NGO worker from the city told EFE.

The person, who was reportedly injured when police fired during a crackdown, was wounded but not in critical condition.

Authorities also arrested an unknown number of protesters there.

In the country’s largest city of Yangon, tens of thousands of people protested at various points around the city, including at the Chinese and Russian embassies ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council special session on Myanmar set for later Friday.

At the Chinese embassy, thousands of people calling for a peaceful civil disobedience movement asked the Asian giant not to support the military government.

One young protester in Yangon said she has had trouble sleeping since the coup.

“I’m not sure we can win this battle but I have to wake every morning to fight back [against the military],” the 17-year-old student told EFE. “I want to sleep and wake peacefully.”

A 21-year-old said he was employed as a motorbike food delivery worker but quit his job two days after the coup.

“I called all my riders to join me every day from my township. We’re helping the demonstrators to clear the route for them,” he said next to his motorbike pasted pictures of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and president Win Myint.

Mass protests against the military takeover were also reported in the capital Naypyitaw, as well as Mandalay, Ayeyarwaddy and Sagaing regions, Kachin and Kayin states and Magwe division, among others.

Also on Friday, Facebook said it would reduce the distribution of all content on Facebook pages and profiles run by the Myanmar military, saying they have “continued to spread misinformation.” The measures applied to the Tatmadaw Information Team page and military spokesperson Brig Gen Zaw Min Tun’s account, among others.

The social network, the most widely used in the country with an estimated 22 million users, also committed to “protect freedom of expression for the tens of millions of Myanmar citizens” and will ensure its apps such as Facebook and Messenger stay online for sources of information and communications.

Earlier, the military junta remitted the sentences of 23,314 prisoners. A notice in state media said that the remittances come as the military “is establishing a new democratic State with peace, development and disciplines, to turn the prisoners into certain decent citizens, to please the public and to create the humanitarian and compassionate grounds.”

It was unknown exactly how many of the prisoners would be released.

The releases came after more arrests overnight. Late Thursday, police arrested a popular fortune-teller in Yangon, which was met with resistance from dozens of residents who gathered outside a police station to demand their release.

The Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP) said “arrests accelerated” since Wednesday and put the number of people detained by the authorities since last week’s coup at 262, including 21 who have been released.

Politicians, activists, lawyers and members of the civil disobedience movement, among others, are among those who have been arrested by the authorities.

Also overnight, the United States government launched new sanctions against 10 current and former military officials it considers responsible for the coup or associated with the military regime, including junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, his deputy Soe Win and acting president Myint Swe.

It also sanctioned three entities it considers linked to the military: Myanmar Ruby Enterprise, Myanmar Imperial Jade and Cancri (Gems and Jewelery.)

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