Updated: March 08, 2021 11:41 AM GMT
Protesters demanding the release of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi hold up three-finger salutes during a demonstration against the military coup in Naypyidaw on March 8. (Photo: AFP)
Two people were killed in Christian stronghold Kachin state in northern Myanmar as security forces stepped up a crackdown against anti-coup protesters.
At least four protesters were shot and two died after being struck in the head as security forces dispersed protesters with live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets in Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin, on March 8, according to local sources. At least seven people were injured.
Sister Ann Rosa Nu Tawng, who earned international acclaim after kneeling in the road to plead with security forces not to shoot protesters on Feb. 28, repeated her brave act on March 8 in Myitkyina.
Doctors and nuns rushed to give medical treatment to injured protesters at a church-run clinic, according to video footage.
These were the first deaths since the Feb. 1 coup in conflict-torn Kachin, where protesters have staged protests daily to show their solidarity with people in other regions in opposing military rule.
The state has drawn little attention from the international media despite protesters having faced at least two crackdowns by security forces last month.
Protesters began a general strike in several cities including Yangon and Mandalay on March 8 as part of an effort to pressure the generals to step down and restore civilian rule.
Some 18 labor organizations from sectors including agriculture, construction and manufacturing called on workers “to stop work to reverse the coup and restore Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government to power.”
“The time to take action in defense of our democracy is now. No one can force any Myanmar citizen to work,” the unions said in a statement.
At least 56 people have been killed since the demonstrations began on Feb. 6, according to the United Nations.
But thousands of people, mostly young, continue to take to the streets in defiance of the threat from the military.
Police and soldiers were patrolling in most townships in Yangon on March 7 night and people heard the sound of gunfire and stun grenades according to media reports.
Soldiers were deployed at hospitals, universities and some temples in several regions across the country on March 7.
In recent days, several people including members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party have been arrested in night raids by security forces.
Khin Mg Latt, a 58-year-old Muslim man and NLD member from Yangon, died in police custody. His family and his colleagues believe he was tortured by security forces.
The military’s brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters has drawn strong condemnation from the United Nations and Western countries.
The UN special envoy recently called on Security Council members to take collective action to stop the violence and restore democracy.
China, Myanmar’s ally that shields it from diplomatic pressure from the UN, said on March 7 that it was willing to engage with all parties to ease the crisis and was not taking sides.
Nearly 1,800 people have been detained and 1,472 remain in custody, according to a Yangon-based rights group.