MYANMAR POLICE FIRE RUBBER BULLETS TO DISPERSE PROTESTERS IN YANGON
Myanmar was shaked by a wave of pro-democracy protests since a military coup toppled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.
Myanmar police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Yangon on Saturday, according to an AFP reporter, after the country’s ambassador to the United Nations broke ranks to make an emotional plea for action against the military junta.
The country has been shaken by a wave of pro-democracy protests since a military coup toppled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.
It was unclear if any live rounds were used as police chased protesters and journalists from the Myaynigone junction.
There had been an hours-long standoff on Friday at the same spot.
Hundreds of ethnic Mon protesters gathered there on Saturday to commemorate Mon National Day, joined by other ethnic minority groups to protest against the coup.
The police arrived to clear the intersection, chasing protesters and journalists who ran to hide in nearby buildings.
Three journalists were among those detained on Saturday.
“What are the police doing? They are protecting a crazy dictator,” the protesters chanted.
They scattered into smaller residential streets and started building makeshift barricades out of barbed wire and tables to stop the police.
Local reporters broadcast the chaotic scenes live on Facebook, including the moments when the shots rang out.
“We will try to find another way to protest — of course, we are afraid of their crackdown,” said protester Moe Moe, 23, who used a pseudonym.
“We want to fight until we win.”
Many other cities and towns have also hosted large protests against the coup.
The takeover has reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule. Suu Kyi's party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but the army blocked Parliament from convening and detained her and President Win Myint and other top members of her government.
At the General Assembly in New York, Myanmar's Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun declared in an emotional speech to fellow delegates that he represented Suu Kyi's “civilian government elected by the people” and supported the fight against military rule.
He urged all countries to issue public statements strongly condemning the coup, and to refuse to recognize the military regime. He also called for stronger international measures to stop violence by security forces against peaceful demonstrators.
He drew loud applause from many diplomats in the 193-nation global body, as well as effusive praise from other Burmese on social media, who described him as a hero. The ambassador flashed a three-finger salute that has been adopted by the civil disobedience movement at the end of his speech in which he addressed people back home in Burmese.
Security forces also tried to thwart protests in Mandalay, where roadblocks were set up at several key intersections and the regular venues for rallies were flooded with police.
Mandalay has been the scene of several violent confrontations, and at least four of eight confirmed deaths linked to the protests, according to the independent Assistance Association of Political Prisoners. On Friday, at least three people there were injured, two of whom were shot in the chest by rubber bullets and another who suffered what appeared to be a bullet wound on his leg.
According to the association, 771 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced at one point in relation to the coup, and 689 are being detained or sought for arrest.
The junta said it took power because last year's polls were marred by massive irregularities. The election commission before the military seized power coup had refuted the allegation of widespread fraud. The junta dismissed the old commission's members and appointed new ones, who on Friday annulled the election results.