Yangon youths joined hands before fatal leap to escape soldiers: witnesses

Image posted to 1997 Khun / Facebook.
Image posted to 1997 Khun / Facebook.

A group of Yangon teens locked arms before leaping from a rooftop to escape pursuing security forces, area residents said today, killing three of them.

Those living in 44th Street described soldiers opening fire on the group, who they were seeking following several downtown bombings, prompting them to flee a room in a residential building to the rooftop where five of them jumped. Three died from the fall.

“They climbed to the roof and ran. The soldiers shot five rounds at them,” a resident of the adjacent building named Zaw, who asked that his full name be withheld, told Coconuts on Wednesday. “One was shot and taken down, the others jumped into the back alley while holding hands.”

Two boys and a girl died in the five-story fall, according to reports. Images and a video (warning, graphic) allegedly from the scene showed several broken bodies lying on the ground.

Three others were taken into custody. It was unclear whether they were sought in connection to the earlier bombings. An image later circulated purportedly showing those taken into custody along with what was said to be bomb-making materials in the room.

“One boy and one girl were still alive when they reached the ground. I heard the boy’s crying, and the girl was beaten by soldiers. The ambulance came only two hours later,” Zaw added.

Another 44th street residence said the soldiers prevented anyone from rendering aid.

“The boy was asking for water, and no one could help him since [the soldiers] were pointing guns at everyone. It was like in the movies,” said Naing, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

“They were taken blindfolded,” he added.

The two survivors were said to have been taken to a military hospital.

The deceased were identified as Kaung Min Thant, Ye Min Oo, and Wai Wai Myint. Those hospitalized were Wai Zaw and Min Thitsar. Three others were arrested in an apartment in the building.

Tin Zaw, the father of Ye Min Oo, told Radio Free Asia that his 27-year-old son had been detained by security forces in February and later released. He said that his son had never been interested in politics before the coup but actively defied the junta since then.

“There was no large organization behind him,” Tin Zaw said, expressing pride in his son.

The military said in a statement today that a man and woman were killed, and three people injured during search operations. It said that two men and a woman were arrested with 16 makeshift grenades and other explosive items.

They were memorialized as heroes on social media, where many poured their hearts out for the dead youths. Artists paid tribute with poems and drawings.

“Dear God, make them birds. So they could fly far. Far far away from here”.

Another drawing depicted five silhouettes of individuals jumping from a building into a field of sunflowers.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, several explosions were reported in downtown Yangon, one of which targeted the office of the Young Men’s Buddhist Association, or YMBA. The association announced on social media that a homemade grenade had been thrown into its office at around 1:45pm. There were no reported injuries.


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