Yangon: Demonstrators in Myanmar protesting last month’s military coup returned to the streets, undaunted by the killing of at least 38 people the previous day by security forces.
New protests were held in at least three areas of Yangon yesterday, the country’s largest city, that have been scenes of violence for the past few days.
Police again used force to try to disperse the crowds, according to social media accounts.
Protests also continued in Mandalay, the second-biggest city.
A formation of five fighter planes flew over the city yesterday morning in what appeared to be a threatening show of force.
The United Nations special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said 38 people were killed on Wednesday, a figure consistent with other reports.
The death toll was the highest since the Feb 1 takeover, when the military ousted the elected government of leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
More than 50 civilians, mostly peaceful protesters, are confirmed to have been killed by police and soldiers since then.
The UN Security Council has scheduled closed-door consultations today on calls to reverse the coup – including from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – and stop the escalating military crackdown.
Some countries have already imposed or are considering their own sanctions.
The UN human rights chief has also called on Myanmar’s security forces to “halt their vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters” and urged the military to release people unlawfully detained.
Michelle Bachelet yesterday said in a statement that more than 1,700 people have been arbitrarily detained and that arrests were escalating, with 29 journalists arrested in recent days.
At least 54 people have been killed by Myanmar police and military officers since the coup, but the actual death toll could be much higher, she said.
“Myanmar’s military must stop murdering and jailing protesters, ” she added.
UN envoy Schraner Burgener said she warned Myanmar’s army that the world’s nations and the Security Council “might take huge strong measures.”
“And the answer was, ‘We are used to sanctions and we survived those sanctions in the past, ’” she said.
When she also warned the army that Myanmar would become isolated, she said, “the answer was, ‘We have to learn to walk with only a few friends’.”
Meanwhile, the Singapore government yesterday urged its citizens currently in Myanmar to leave the protest-riven country as soon as they can.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also asks Singaporeans to avoid travelling to Myanmar.
“In view of the rapidly escalating clashes between protesters and the Myanmar security forces and increasing number of civilian casualties in Myanmar, Singaporeans are strongly advised to defer all travel to Myanmar at this time, ” said the MFA.
“Singaporeans currently in Myanmar should also consider leaving as soon as they can by commercial means while it is still possible to do so.”
The MFA said Singaporeans who choose to remain in Myanmar are strongly advised to remain indoors as far as possible and avoid unnecessary travel, in particular to areas where protests are occurring. Singaporeans are also reminded to remain vigilant and monitor local news closely. — Agencies