Myanmar security forces took down more than 60 people with rifle grenades and machine guns as they cleaned up barriers erected by anti-government protesters in the central Myanmar city of Bago on Friday, leaving bodies were piled up in temples and on the school grounds of the old city, witnesses said.
Police and soldiers poured ammunition and grenade rain on the streets of the Otthar Thiri ward of Bago, a city of 250,000 and the capital of the region of the same name, starting before dawn. The barricades were built by protesters protesting the military overthrow of February 1 over the country’s elected government.
“People in our ward knew they were coming and waited all night,” an anonymous resident told RFA. “The soldiers used heavy weapons. We even found a mortar. There was a lot of machine gun sounds. “
“In addition to the direct gun battles, the soldiers are said to use grenade launchers,” the resident said.
The death toll is expected to increase as security forces open fire all day, shooting passers-by on empty streets, other witnesses said. The fence attack came after two days of lull during the protests.
Other locals told RFA they were only able to recover three bodies at 8 pm and the soldiers took away the bodies piled up on the Zeyamuni temple grounds and at a nearby school.
The state administrative council, the governing body formed after Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government were overthrown and the parliament dissolved, did not comment on the bloodshed in Bago.
But Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) reported that a military court sentenced 19 people to death on Friday for allegedly beating and torturing a military captain and a man. Another man, who died from his injuries, was in Yangon’s North Okkalapa town last month.
Arrest orders were issued for 19 people, including a 17-year-old woman, all of whom were grown, the report said.
Nearly 650 people have been killed by the military and police since the February 1 coup, according to an RFA tally. The Association for Supporting Political Prisoners, a Thai-based human rights group, has reported a total of 618 people dead as of Friday and 2,931 in custody since the coup took place.
‘They cremated him immediately’
‘Across the multiracial nation of 54 million people, anti-government protesters defied the risk of lethal violence to hold Friday protests in the Mandalay, Tanintharyi and Sagaing regions as well as in the states of Kachin and Shan.
In the town of Kyaukpadaung, in the Mandalay region, security forces shot Mr. Tin Moe, 50, when he fled the approaching army, who later took his body away, a resident said.
“Around 11:30 am, they came to arrest Tin Moe for participating in the protest, and when he tried to escape, they shot him,” the witness said. “He was beaten in the belt and definitely dead. We heard they cremated him immediately. “
The overarching crackdown on the muffled protests has also eliminated the trade and employment of the people of Yangon, the old capital and the mall. Business has been low since early 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Economic pain is plagued by everyone, from civil servants quitting their jobs to participating in protests, to factory workers who lost their jobs due to factory shutdowns, to online workers unable to access the internet after the government shut down most of the mobile Internet and Wi-Fi services.
“We have been unemployed for almost two months,” a former Food Panda employee, an online food delivery group, told RFA. “The roads are blocked, and we cannot go out. “The Internet, on which our food delivery service is based, has been cut off.”
Nearly all factories and factories were closed because military protests suppressed violence and fires at many factories left workers out of jobs. Nearly half of the more than six million people living in Yangon have lost their jobs and now find it difficult to live there.
A woman from the town of Hlaingthaya in Yangon, an industrial zone where the fire wiped out many garment factories in March, said: “Almost all factories in the region have closed and many people are unemployed.
“Many workers are unpaid, and many others have gone home,” she said. “We are fortunate to have two meals a day, but many people find it difficult to eat a single meal a day.”
Residents said that police and soldiers conducted sudden inspections in every corner of the town, making life difficult for pedestrians, cyclists and ordinary workers. They say that rickshaw and taxi drivers have no income at all.
“Problems caused by the pandemic have been compounded by the protests,” said a young man who is helping to accommodate a rickshaw driver.
“Some people are even without a place to live, and monsoon weather is approaching,” he said.
Government employees who have left their jobs and join the civil disobedience (CDM) movement against the military regime will no longer receive their salaries and have been evicted from government-provided housing.
“We were told we had to move out of our government housing by April 5, and so I moved on April 3,” said a former Department of Information staff member of the CDM. “It was too sudden and had some difficulties. I don’t have much money on hand so it’s not easy to rent an apartment. I have to stay with friends as a temporary measure ”.
Delete the satellite dish
The government has ordered people to dismantle Thailand-made PSI satellite dishes across the country to cut off people’s access to information – a move that follows a gradual crackdown on social media. Assembly, Wi-Fi and mobile Internet in the nearly 10 weeks since the coup. .
The military regime has also banned independent TV stations, including Mizzima and the Voice of Burma (DVB), from broadcasting on PSI since Thursday, they said.
Mizzima told RFA that the military has removed the PSI satellite dishes and people can no longer watch the shows since Wednesday afternoon.
A resident of the town of Monywa in the Sagaing region said: “The PSI clones are no more, so now we will have to go back to our radio and listen to Voice of America, RFA and BBC to find out. out the truth. “Our country is like North Korea now.”
Residents in several other cities, including Yangon, told RFA security forces were dismantling their satellite dishes.
People have turned to radio news and sharing it with others over the phone, a Bago resident said.
“Since the mobile internet was cut off, we have lost news,” he told RFA. “We don’t know what’s going on in Yangon. We don’t know what’s going on in the other cities. We have to call to inquire about people in cities, and then spread the news to friends in the neighborhood ”.
An announcement posted on the Facebook page of PSI’s activities in Myanmar on Thursday said the Mizzima and DVB channels were suspended for public safety. Channels DVB and Mizzima have been broadcasting news online since the military regime officially banned them from operations in March.
RFA was unable to come to PSI headquarters for comment.
“Now that they’ve cut the internet completely off, it’s very difficult for the international community to know what’s going on here,” said former MP Aung May Yee from the National League for Democracy. “We lost a lot of rights.”
Myanmar authorities on Friday refused entry into the country for Christine Schraner Burgener, the UN special envoy to Myanmar, who traveled to Bangkok to try to meet with regime leaders about the situation. news Reuters reported.
“Just arrived at BKK to talk,” Schraner Burgener tweeted. “I am very sorry that the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] answered me yesterday that they are not willing to accept me. I am ready for conversation. Violence never leads to sustainable, peaceful solutions ”.
Report of RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translation by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.