February 28, 2021
Asia

Soldiers shoot live rounds at protesters in Myanmar crisis

independent.ie– A woman was fighting for her life last night after security forces in Myanmar fired live rounds at protesters opposed to last week’s military coup.

The activist was taking part in a demonstration in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar, when she was shot in the head with the bullet penetrating deep into her skull yesterday, medical sources said.

She is being treated at a Naypyitaw hospital. A doctor at the Thingangyun General Hospital in Yangon said she was unlikely to survive.

“The surgeon told me they won’t be [doing] surgery according to her condition. But the bullet is real ammo,” the doctor said.

“She was shot from behind,” the source added, saying that even though she wore a helmet the bullet penetrated her brain and she had been placed on a ventilator.

The crackdown came as mass rallies erupted for the fourth straight day against last week’s military takeover that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with demonstrators defying a ban on gatherings of more than five people introduced by the junta on Monday.

Police fired on crowds in major cities with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets, injuring at least three in Naypyitaw.

A doctor at an emergency clinic said three people with wounds suspected of being from rubber bullets and one with a head injury had been transferred to a main hospital after treatment at the clinic.

The reports were corroborated by witnesses who said police fired rubber bullets at protesters after earlier blasting them with water cannon.

“They fired warning shots to the sky two times, then they fired [at protesters] with rubber bullets,” said one resident, adding that he saw some people injured.

In Yangon, the country’s commercial centre, and Mandalay, the second-largest city, reports emerged of police firing water cannon on protesters and carrying out mass arrests.

The doctor in Naypyitaw said the hospital was “prepared for disaster” amid the widespread demonstrations and growing crackdown by the military.

“My feeling is not scared. I am devoted to fight against military dictatorship. All my colleagues have the same devotion,” they said.

Human rights activists were swift to condemn the government’s heavy-handed tactics against peaceful mass demonstrations, which have gained pace across the country since thousands first took to the streets on Saturday.

“We are facing a potential human rights catastrophe in Myanmar,” said Ismail Wolff, regional director of the Fortify Rights group.

“This excessive use of force in the military junta’s attempt to suppress peaceful demonstrations is unlawful, unjustified and disproportionate. It threatens to escalate tensions across the country.”

General Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the armed forces and chief of the new junta, tried to justify the coup in a televised address, pledging a fresh election that would make the country a “true and disciplined democracy”.

Meanwhile, police carried out a night raid at the headquarters of Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

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