Burmese activists held candlelight vigils overnight as the death toll from military crackdown on anti-coup protesters and clashes in ethnic border areas continues to rise on Wednesday, prompting states -United to order all non-essential Embassy staff to leave the country.
At least four other protesters were reportedly killed by security forces during protests in the southern Tanintharyi region on Wednesday morning, according to the Myanmar Now news agency, while social media images showed soldiers patrolling Kamayut township. in Yangon.
Meanwhile, dozens of protesters marched through Seikkyi Kanaungto Municipality in Yangon, while a few young protesters carrying government anti-military banners took to the streets of northern Dagon.
Social media also showed hundreds of people in Mogaung County, Kachin state, who began walking at dawn on Wednesday.
More than 520 civilians have been killed in two months of protests against the February 1 coup, including 141 on Saturday, the bloodiest day of the unrest, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP).
More funerals are scheduled for Wednesday for those who died in Tuesday’s violent crackdown.
The AAPP said eight more people died on Tuesday, when thousands of people marched in several cities, according to media and photos on social media.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military arrested elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and re-imposed military rule after 10 years of attempts to move towards democracy.
Fighting also broke out between the army and armed rebels in border areas and refugees spread across the border into Thailand.
The armed group Karen National Union, which operates along the eastern border with Thailand, said on Tuesday it was preparing for a major government offensive.
The group urged the international community, especially neighboring Thailand, to help the Karen flee the “assault” and called on countries to sever ties with the military government to end violence against civilians.
Being repelled by # Thai Army while there are still airstrikes from the # ArmyBurma in and around their villages, these #Karen The internally displaced are hiding in caves or under rocks along the Salween River. No safe place to go. The life I had lived.https://t.co/WPQ8Fq8ESR pic.twitter.com/xX1Ae9tW0v
– Myra Dahgaypaw (@myradah) March 31, 2021
Meanwhile, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a northern rebel group, attacked a police station in Kachin state at 3 a.m. (8:30 p.m. GMT) on Wednesday, the Kachin reported. News Group.
Police and a spokesman for the Burmese generals did not respond to calls for comment.
Threat of civil unrest
Amid growing concern over civil unrest, the United States on Tuesday ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government workers and their families from Myanmar.
“It’s pretty clear that the situation in Myanmar is deteriorating rapidly and creating some pretty interesting relationship,” Brian Harding, senior expert on Southeast Asia at the US Institute of Peace, told Al Jazeera. “The military coup and repression have succeeded in uniting factional groups. “
Rebels have fought the government for decades for greater autonomy in remote border areas. The army has justified its long hold on power by saying that it is the only institution capable of ensuring national unity.
Military planes bombarded KNU fighters over the weekend, causing an estimated 3,000 villagers to flee to Thailand.
Thailand has denied accusations by activists that the refugees were being forced back, but a Thai border official said the military was returning most people because it was considered safe on Myanmar’s side.
A spokesperson for the United Nations refugee agency told Reuters news agency he was concerned about reports of people being returned and was seeking information from Thailand.
An Indian border state has withdrawn an order denying food and shelter to refugees after the measure drew strong public criticism.
The military seized power in February declaring that the November elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, a claim rejected by the electoral commission.
A campaign of civil disobedience of strikes crippled part of the economy and protesters escalated it by asking residents to drop off their trash at intersections in Yangon City.
Western countries have condemned the coup and the violence and demanded the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and some have imposed specific sanctions.
In Washington, DC, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said some foreign countries and companies with large investments in businesses that support the Myanmar military should reconsider these issues.
He said the recent violence was “reprehensible” and followed a pattern of “increasingly disturbing and even horrific violence” against protesters opposing the military regime.
Indonesia has led efforts by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, to push for a negotiated solution, despite the group’s agreement not to comment on the issues. of each other.
Foreign criticism and Western sanctions against Myanmar’s previous military governments have had little effect in the short term.