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Myanmar junta accused of targeting protesters in massacre

Deadly shootings in Hlaing Tharyar in March stand out because of the many victims

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Published: December 03, 2021 05:50 AM GMT

Updated: December 03, 2021 05:56 AM GMT

Myanmar junta accused of targeting protesters in massacre

A protester holds onto the shirt of a fallen comrade during a crackdown by security forces on demonstrations against the military coup in Hlaing Tharyar township in Yangon on March 14. (Photo: AFP)

Myanmar security forces deliberately used lethal force against protesters that led to the deaths of at least 65 protesters and bystanders, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a new report.

The rights group collected several videos and photographs of the March 14 protest in Hlaing Tharyar, a large township on the outskirts of Yangon, and interviewed six witnesses who revealed that police and soldiers deployed “kettling” — encircling and trapping people before they opened fire.

It said the deadly shootings in the large industrial town stand out because of the large number of people killed and the security forces’ apparent premeditated use of lethal force.

“The Myanmar security forces’ massacre of several dozen people outside Yangon in mid-March was not a case of riot control gone astray,” said Manny Maung, one of the researchers at HRW, which called the slaughter a violation of international law.

Following the Feb. 1 military coup that ousted Myanmar’s democratically elected government, numerous demonstrations broke out in Yangon and other cities.

Around 10am on March 14, about 200 soldiers and police began moving into Hlaing Tharyar, bypassing the barriers and causing protesters to retreat or disperse, according to HRW.

Some people who tried to help went forward anyway and they were shot in the head and died

Witnesses told the rights group that by 11am security forces had trapped many protesters from the east and west.

Security forces claim they issued a verbal warning before they began firing at protesters, but most witnesses said they heard no warnings.

One video clip shows police and military gathered at 1pm on the Aung Zeya bridge, which separates Hlaing Tharyar from Yangon. The forces look at the protesters on the streets below and can be heard discussing when and whom to shoot.

“Just shoot them in the head,” an unidentified person off camera says, while two police officers point assault rifles at the protesters. Gunshots are heard and the same unidentified person yells “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!”

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All six witnesses told the rights group that the security forces also fired on people who were trying to reach the wounded.

“We weren’t able to help those who were injured because they would shoot at us if we tried,” one witness said. “We couldn’t get to them, and they died. Some people who tried to help went forward anyway and they were shot in the head and died.”

Since the coup, Myanmar security forces have killed more than 1,200 protesters and bystanders, committing killings, torture and other crimes that amount to crimes against humanity, according to HRW.

The rights agency urged the UN, regional bodies and governments to respond to ongoing human rights violations and crimes against humanity in Myanmar by supplementing, strengthening and coordinating international sanctions against the junta leadership and military under General Min Aung Hlaing.

“Hlaing Tharyar was a bloodbath for which all those responsible should be brought to justice,” Manny Maung said. “Such atrocities will continue unless the UN Security Council and concerned governments take concerted action to hold Myanmar’s junta leaders to account.”

1 Comments on this Story
DAVID C
the junta must be brought to trial . and the world must stop dealing with these people , and uk should remove them from the myanmar embassy in london ,, they should in no way be encouraed pr accepted ,,

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