Clashes erupt across Yangon as bloodshed fails to deter protests

Protesters on Friday morning in Yangon’s Hlaing Township. Photo: @Your_j0y / Twitter
Protesters on Friday morning in Yangon’s Hlaing Township. Photo: @Your_j0y / Twitter

The battle for control of the streets erupted again this morning in Yangon as security forces attempt to put down resistance to the military takeover with violence.

Sonic weapons were deployed against protesters in the Sanchuang area, with demonstrators fanning out across the city from Bayintnaung to Botahtaung – along with the military forces. While the body count has been rising – at least 38 were killed alone on Wednesday – there were no reports of casualties yet today.

“I never thought I would be woken up by a sound grenade,” said Aung Khant Maw, 23 of Sanchaung, to friends standing nearby by with makeshift shields.

Resistance to Tatmadaw continues despite rising death toll

He came to join the protest after the noise roused him.

“I came over to join the protest as soon as I woke up,” he told Coconuts as police in riot gear assembled meters away from their defensive line on Kyuntaw Road.

At least six sound grenades have been fired by state security forces since 10am in Sanchaung alone. While the rally there has been dispersed, demonstrators simply moved on to prepare their next fortified position. Most are young men and women, between 17 and 27, wearing the gas masks and helmets that have become emblematic of anti-authoritarianism from Hong Kong to Bangkok.

“Our tactic now is simple: If they shoot, we run,” said Ye Myint, 27 and a Sanchuang resident.  “Then we reassemble.”

Cries of “Our arrested leaders, release them immediately!” and for the health of State Counseller Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, be healthy!” could be heard through the streets at the scene.

The willingness of the Tatmadaw, as the military is called, to kill its own citizens to secure its hold on power has not cowed the public, despite increasing casualties.

On Wednesday, at least 38 people were killed in anti-coup protests across Myanmar – the bloodiest day yet on peaceful demonstrations against last month’s coup, according to the United Nations. At least 450 protesters and students have been arrested and sent to Insein Prison in Yangon.

In North Okkalapa Township, a day after six people were killed by military forces Wednesday, the protest swelled even larger, with crowds singing resistance anthem Kabar Ma Kyay Bu while raising three-finger salutes. There were no reports of bloodshed on Thursday.

Ma Kyal Sin, 19, called Angel to her friends, was among those killed in Mandalay – shot in the neck Wednesday during a crackdown on protesters. She was seen cheering protesters – “Are we united?”, “Yes, we are!” – prior to her death.

Said to be a huge Aung San Suu Kyi supporter, Ma Kyal Sin reportedly voted for the first time in November’s election won by the National League for Democracy in a landslide, triggering unsupported accusations of fraud by the military.

Thousands attended her funeral yesterday at the 80th Street Yunan Temple, with many raising defiant salutes as they followed her hearse. Attempts to reach her family for comment were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile the military has dialed up its effort to paint protesters as violent instigators. Reports today in military-run newspapers described fireworks used to harass police and soldiers on Thursday as bombs and weapons, with junta leaders portraying them as weapons of mass destruction, and protesters as terrorists.



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