Crackdown on protesters in Mandalay shipyard turns deadly

More than a fortnight after Feb 1 military coup, demonstrations show no signs of dying down

Cartridges of both live rounds and rubber bullets were found by witnesses after the authorities opened fire on the protesters in Mandalay. Tensions mounted in Mandalay yesterday when police and soldiers confronted shipyard workers and other protester
An injured man inside an ambulance after police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas during a violent confrontation with protesters in Mandalay yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Cartridges of both live rounds and rubber bullets were found by witnesses after the authorities opened fire on the protesters in Mandalay. Tensions mounted in Mandalay yesterday when police and soldiers confronted shipyard workers and other protester
Tensions mounted in Mandalay yesterday when police and soldiers confronted shipyard workers and other protesters. Some demonstrators fired catapults at the police as they played cat and mouse on the riverside streets. PHOTO: REUTERS
Cartridges of both live rounds and rubber bullets were found by witnesses after the authorities opened fire on the protesters in Mandalay. Tensions mounted in Mandalay yesterday when police and soldiers confronted shipyard workers and other protester
Cartridges of both live rounds and rubber bullets were found by witnesses after the authorities opened fire on the protesters in Mandalay. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANDALAY • A raid by the Myanmar authorities on a shipyard in Mandalay turned violent yesterday when the authorities fired at protesters who gathered to stop arrests, killing two people.

Protesters had earlier yesterday took to the streets in cities and towns across the country to demand an end to military rule and the release from detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others.

Her National League for Democracy party was ousted in a military coup on Feb 1.

Tensions escalated quickly in Mandalay where police and soldiers confronted the striking shipyard workers and other protesters.

Some of the demonstrators fired catapults at police as they played cat and mouse through riverside streets.

Police responded with tear gas and gunfire, and witnesses said they found the cartridges of both live rounds and rubber bullets on the ground.

A Facebook video streamed live by a resident on the scene appeared to carry non-stop sounds of gunshots. "They are shooting cruelly," said the resident, who appeared to be taking shelter at a nearby construction site. "We have to find a safer place."

One man died from a head wound, said a volunteer doctor and media workers including assistant editor Lin Khaing from the Voice of Myanmar media outlet in the city.

Graphic video circulated on Facebook showed the victim splayed on the ground and bleeding from his head as one bystander placed a hand on his chest to feel for a heartbeat.

A second man was shot in the chest and died later of his wound. He was identified by relatives as 36-year-old carpenter Thet Naing Win.

"They took away the body to the morgue. I cannot bring him back home. Although my husband died, I still have my son," his wife Thidar Hnin told Reuters by phone.

"I haven't been involved in this movement yet but now I am going to... I am not scared now."

Several other injured protesters were carried away on stretchers by volunteer medics, with their clothes soaked in blood.

The police were not available for comment.

State television MRTV's evening news broadcast made no mention of the protests or casualties.

In the main city Yangon, residents again banged pots and pans in a nightly ritual expressing defiance of the coup.

More than a fortnight of demonstrations and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes and disruptions show no indications of dying down despite the death of a young female protester.

  • MFA urges utmost restraint

  • Statement from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday: "We are dismayed by the reports of civilian casualties following the use of lethal force by security forces against demonstrators in Myanmar. The use of lethal weapons against unarmed civilians is inexcusable.

    We strongly urge the security forces to exercise utmost restraint to avoid further injuries and loss of lives, and take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and restore calm. The authorities must prevent further violence and bloodshed.

    All parties should seek a political solution for national reconciliation, including a return to Myanmar's path of democratic transition, through dialogue, without resorting to violence. If the situation continues to escalate, there will be serious adverse consequences for Myanmar and the region.

    The Singapore Embassy in Yangon has been in touch with Singaporeans in Myanmar.

    In view of the volatile situation, Singaporeans in Myanmar are advised to remain indoors as far as possible and avoid unnecessary travel to areas where protests are occurring.

    Singaporeans are reminded to remain vigilant and monitor local news closely. They should take necessary precautions for their personal safety, and eRegister immediately at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg so that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can contact them should the need arise."

The authorities have arrested hundreds of people since the putsch, many of them civil servants who had been boycotting work as part of the civil disobedience campaign.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2021, with the headline 'Crackdown on protesters in Mandalay shipyard turns deadly'. Subscribe