Myanmar police ‘fire’ rubber bullets on protesters

Myanmar police on Tuesday fired rubber bullets during demonstrations in the capital Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay as thousands defied a ban on protests, witnesses said.

Water cannons and tear gas were also used against the protesters, who are opposing a military coup that removed the elected government last week.

Protests continued for the fourth consecutive day, despite new restrictions. The State Administrative Council, chaired by military chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing who led the coup, has imposed a nationwide nighttime curfew from 8 p.m. local time (0230GMT), and a ban on large public gatherings.

Myanmar’s military, officially known as the Tatmadaw, declared a state of emergency on Feb. 1, hours after detaining President Win Myint, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, and other senior members of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

The military justifies the seizure of power due to “voter fraud” in the November 2020 polls, in which Suu Kyi’s NLD made sweeping gains.

Protesters are demanding a return to democracy, and the release of detained leaders.

Witnesses and media reports said several people were injured as police used water cannons and fired rubber bullets.

While Min Thu, who saw the police crackdown near the capital’s Thabyay Gone junction, put the number of injured at 10, Radio Free Asia’s Burmese Service said at least five protesters including a woman in her 20s were taken to a public hospital.

“A girl was shot in the chest and immediately taken to a hospital,” said another protester, who asked not to be named.

A video, in which a woman was shot as police responded to the protesters throwing stones from a distance, also went viral on social media.

In Mandalay, anti-coup protesters faced a similar crackdown, and many were detained by the police.

A journalist based in the country’s second-largest city told Anadolu Agency that protesters gathered in front of a government office building, demanded the release of those detained, and refused to disperse.

Demonstrations were staged in Yangon as well. Ko Ko Htay, a 62-year-old resident in Lanmadaw, a downtown township, said they neither recognize the military rule nor would take orders from them. “We would not bow down but continue to protest till democracy and the civilian rule is restored,” he told Anadolu Agency.

On Monday night, the military chief, in his first televised address since the takeover, assured new elections after a year of army rule.

Zin Mar Aung, a member of the ruling party, said they do not buy the military junta’s promises.

“There were such false promises after the military coup in 1990 as well. It took two decades to return to civilian rule. So, we would not let this happen again,” Aung told Anadolu Agency over the phone

Tolani Giwa

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