Bloodiest day so far in Myanmar

The situation in Myanmar is getting worse after the brutal crackdown on demonstrators over the weekend. Despite the massive violence, there were new protests on Monday. According to estimates by the prisoners’ aid organization AAPP and local media, the military and police killed several dozen people on Sunday alone. AAPP spoke of at least 38 victims, but many observers put the number far higher on Monday.

The news portal Myanmar Now wrote, citing three hospitals in a tweet of 59 dead and 129 injured in the former capital Yangon (formerly: Rangoon) alone. Here, the military imposed martial law in several parts of the city, as the state television announced.

There had previously been arson attacks on several Chinese textile factories in Yangon. Numerous Chinese workers were injured, the Chinese embassy said on Facebook. She called on the authorities to protect Chinese businesses and Chinese citizens. It is unclear who was responsible for the arson attacks. With the imposition of martial law, soldiers no longer have to wait for an order from the military command during operations, but can shoot in the affected districts or occupy houses if they see fit.

“The military is afraid of the Chinese government, so they want to protect China’s property, but not the lives of us civilians,” said Nay Min Khant, a citizen from Yangon, of the German press agency. The protester Htoo Htoo emphasized: “The number of deaths from yesterday is much higher than we know so far. Some bodies have been taken to hospitals, others have been taken home by families.”

The UN special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, was dismayed by the killings of demonstrators and called for international solidarity with them. She had personally heard from contacts in Myanmar “heartbreaking reports of murders, mistreatment of demonstrators and torture of prisoners,” it said in a statement. “The ongoing brutality, including against medical personnel, and the destruction of public infrastructure are seriously undermining the prospects for peace and stability,” said Schraner Burgener. The international community must unite and show solidarity with the people in Myanmar and their democratic aspirations. She also explicitly named regional actors.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, wrote on Twitter that he was heartbroken and outraged by the violence over the weekend. “Junta leaders don’t belong in power, they belong behind bars.” The generals would have to be cut off from funding and access to weapons. “I appeal to the UN member states to heed my call to action,” said Andrews.

The military junta imposed a one-year state of emergency after the coup on February 1. The demonstrators are demanding a return to democratic reforms, the release of the head of government, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, and the re-establishment of her civilian government. The 75-year-old had clearly won the parliamentary election in November.

A new hearing planned for Monday by Suu Kyis had to be postponed to March 24th due to a lack of Internet access, as the portal Eleven Myanmar wrote, citing the politician’s lawyer. At the beginning of the week, the military had the Internet blocked in large parts of the country; the network only worked sporadically in Yangon, for example. Suu Kyi is connected to the court via video at each of her hearings. She is charged with several offenses, including violating the country’s foreign trade laws. No lawyer was admitted to the first two judicial appointments.

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