Seven-year-old girl is shot dead inside her home after Myanmar forces opened fire outside
- The seven-year-old girl died of bullet wounds sustained in the city of Mandalay
- Witnesses said the girl was shot in her home when security forces opened fire
- According to Save the Children, at least 20 children have been killed in Myanmar since the military coup of February 1, leading to a brutal crackdown on protests
- A further 17 children are being held in arbitrary detention, the charity said
A seven-year-old girl died of bullet wounds in Myanmar’s second city Mandalay on Tuesday, people working for a funeral service told Reuters news agency.
Witnesses said the girl had been shot inside her home when security forces opened fire in a suburb of the city in the centre of the protest-torn country.
Residents said at least one person had been killed in shooting elsewhere in Mandalay, while charity Save the Children said on Tuesday that at least 20 children have so far been killed as the country’s military continues its crackdown on protests.
Authorities have not hesitated to use lethal force to break up demonstrations staged against last month’s military coup and detention of the country’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021.
A further 17 children are being held in arbitrary detention, the charity said, as it called a separate killing of a teenage boy ‘horrifying’.
Pictured: Family members cry over the dead body of a teenage boy Tun Tun Aung who was shot dead by security forces in front of his home on Monday, in Mandalay, March 23, 2021
According to multiple sources on social media, the boy’s sister said he was at home in a ‘squatters’ area’, which was ‘not strong enough to stop bullets’.
Footage of the boy’s grieving mother is also circulating social media. The teenage boy was due to turn 15 in July.
In addition to child detainees, other protesters, many of them young students, continue to be arrested, with at least 488 students currently being held in detention according to the latest estimates from Save the Children.
At least twenty of those arrested are high-school students whose ages are unknown, though some of them could also be under 18, the charity added.
‘We are horrified that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks on peaceful protesters,’ Save the Children said in a statement.
‘The death of the boy is especially concerning given that he reportedly was killed while being at home, where he should have been safe from harm.
‘The fact that so many children are being killed on an almost daily basis now shows a complete disregard for human life by security forces.
‘The safety of children must be protected under all circumstances and we once again call on security forces to end these deadly attacks against protesters immediately.’
The charity also said that security forces have reportedly occupied more than 60 schools and university campuses across the country.
In at least one incident, security forces reportedly beat two teachers while entering premises, and left several others injured.
Pictured: Protesters take cover during clashes with security forces in Monywa, Myanmar March 21, 2021. Authorities have not hesitated to use lethal force to break up demonstrations staged against last month’s military coup and detention of the country’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021
Myanmar’s junta on Tuesday defended its seven-week crackdown that has left more than 260 democracy protesters dead, insisting it would not tolerate ‘anarchy’.
The junta has unleashed deadly violence as it struggles to quell nationwide protests against the February 1 ousting of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In a news conference in the capital Naypyidaw, junta spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun put the death toll lower at 164.
‘I am sad because these violent terrorist people who died are our nationals,’ he said.
The streets of towns and cities across the country have seen chaotic scenes for weeks as security forces clash with protesters demanding the restoration of democracy and the release of Suu Kyi.
The authorities have used tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds to disperse protests, prompting a senior UN rights expert to warn they may be committing ‘crimes against humanity’.
But despite widespread international condemnation, Zaw Min Tun defended the response, saying that the security forces were dealing with ‘insurgents holding weapons’ and five police and four soldiers had been killed.
‘We have to crack down on the anarchy. Which countries in the world accept anarchy?’ he said.
Anti-coup protesters prepare against a police crackdown at Taketa township in Yangon, Myanmar Saturday, March 20, 2021
Despite the bloodshed, protesters took to the streets again on Tuesday, staging dawn demonstrations in parts of the commercial capital Yangon.
As well as breaking up protests, the military has sought to stem the flow of news about the crackdown, banning several local media outlets and arresting dozens of journalists.
Mobile data networks are suspended and Zaw Min Tun said there were presently no plans to restore them.
Suu Kyi, not seen in public since being detained on February 1, is facing several criminal charges as well as allegations of accepting illegal payments of gold and cash.
Sean Turnell, an Australian adviser to the 75-year-old Nobel laureate, is being investigated under immigration and state secrets laws, the junta spokesman announced Tuesday.
Turnell, an economist and university professor, was the first foreign national arrested following the coup.
At a news conference in the capital Naypyitaw, the military presented a video of a former political colleague of ousted Aung San Suu Kyi claiming he had handed over large amounts of cash and gold to her personally, in what the military has characterised as corruption.
Such allegations were previously denied by her lawyer.
The mother of Khant Ngar Hein weeps during his funeral in Yangon, Myanmar Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Khant Ngar Hein, an 18-year old medical student, was fatally shot by security forces during an anti-crop protest on Sunday, March 14, in Tamwe, Yangon
Many of the protests Tuesday were staged in a way that avoided confrontations with authorities, who have not hesitated to use lethal force to break up demonstrations.
Some marches were held before dawn in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, and elsewhere and went unmolested. Other protests adopted the tactic of having signboards or other inanimate objects lined up in the street to serve as proxies for human demonstrators.
The independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has verified 261 protesters’ deaths nationwide but says the actual total, including cases where verification has been difficult, is probably much higher.
It said 2,682 people have also been arrested or charged since the coup, with 2,302 still detained or sought for arrest.
In its news conference, the military presented displays of seized homemade weapons and videos of street battles to argue that the demonstrators are violent and that its efforts to stop them are justified.
Images of Myanmar ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi are displayed during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, 18 March 2021
However, in the weeks since the February 1 coup, protesters only began using organised violence after more than 100 demonstrators had been shot dead by police and soldiers.
The allegations against Suu Kyi made by former Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein were first mentioned by the military several weeks ago. Last week the military-controlled Myawaddy TV station aired a similar video with a construction magnate who also claimed to have made large payoffs to Suu Kyi.
That video was replayed at Tuesday’s news conference.
No supporting evidence for the allegations has been offered, and they are generally dismissed as an effort by the military to frame Suu Kyi so she can be discredited and tried on a serious criminal charge. She is already being held on several more minor charges.
A report in the state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Tuesday said the junta has expressed fresh concern about civil servants, teachers and medical workers joining the Civil Disobedience Movement that is the vanguard group opposing last month’s military takeover.
The report referred to the opposition group as CDM, the initials by which it is popularly known. The group encourages employees of key enterprises, such as government offices, to stay away from work.
Pictured: Residents prepare to free balloons with the ‘R2P’ message, or the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ principle that the international community is justified in taking action against a state that is deemed to have failed to protect its population from atrocities, in Myanmar, March 22
In what was a relatively conciliatory tone compared with earlier threats, the junta at its Monday meeting was reported to have described failing to show up at work as ‘not a crime but a violation of the civil service disciplines.’
It said that for first offences, civil servants would have to sign confessions, but further offences would be dealt with according to civil service rules.
Previously, government employees have been detained for joining the CDM, and striking state railway workers have been kicked out of their government-supplied housing if they don’t agree to go back to work.
Myanmar labor unions on March 7 issued a joint call for an extended nationwide work stoppage, with the goal of a ‘full, extended shutdown of the Myanmar economy.’ In a statement, they called for the strike to continue ‘until we receive our democracy back.’
Tuesday’s report of the junta’s meeting also highlighted teachers’ absences from work, saying some have joined the CDM, as have health workers.
The junta repeated its claims that civil servants, teachers and doctors joined the CDM under threat.
‘They should make a complaint to the respective authorities about the matter,’ said the newspaper’s account of the junta meeting. ‘Some teachers and doctors are still absent from work as they are worried that they may face punishment if they return to the unit,’ junta chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing was cited saying.
Although the CDM does not advocate violence, the movement has painted those who don’t give it support as collaborators with the junta with blood on their hands, who may be ostracised.
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