Myanmar Military Regime Denies Responsibility for Death of Woman Shot at Naypyitaw Protest

By The Irrawaddy 21 February 2021

YANGON—The Myanmar military regime has categorically denied involvement in the killing of a young woman who was shot in the head during a police crackdown on anti-regime protesters, saying the bullet that struck her was different from the type security forces use, citing a postmortem report.

Ma Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, a 20-year-old high school student, was pronounced dead on Feb. 19 after she was hit by a live bullet in Naypyitaw on Feb. 10, when riot police bloodily quelled the protesters.

Myanmar has seen nationwide anti-regime protests for more than two weeks following the coup on Feb. 1. The junta has detained the country’s democratically elected leaders, President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as well as many other opponents.

Video footage that has gone viral on Facebook shows that the student made no attempt to get past the police barricades at the scene. She collapsed abruptly after being struck in the head by a bullet while taking cover from water cannons under a bus-stop shelter. A doctor from a medical team in Naypyitaw who requested anonymity told The Irrawaddy that the bullet pierced the motorcycle helmet she was wearing and lodged in her head.

On Sunday, the regime’s mouthpiece, the state-run newspaper “The Mirror”, said, “According to the postmortem on Feb. 19, a piece of lead was found in the head of Ma Mya Thwet Thwet Khine.”

“(It) is different from ammunition Myanmar Police Force use in crowd control, and the bullet found is not the same as the … assault ammunition police use,” it said.

It also said “the victim was likely wounded and killed by a weapon used by some other external [force],” without elaborating.

Ma Mya Thwet Thwet Khine was the first anti-regime protest-related fatality.

On Saturday, riot police and soldiers in Mandalay opened fire on civilians, killing two people and wounding several.

However, a state-run newspaper reported on Sunday that “Rioters Assail Security Forces with Projectiles in Mandalay”, claiming that security forces cleared people blocking the streets and tried to disperse the crowd “according to the law.” No mention of the deaths of two people, including a teenage boy, hit in the head and abdomen, were to be seen.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, tweeted on Sunday that he was horrified to see more loss of life, including that of the teenage boy in Mandalay, as the ruling junta escalates its brutality in Myanmar.

“From water cannons to rubber bullets to tear gas and now hardened troops firing point blank at peaceful protesters. This madness must end, now!” he said.

Following the fatal shooting on Saturday, the international community condemned the military regime for its deadly crackdowns on civilians.

The US Embassy in Yangon said it was “deeply troubled by the fatal shooting of protesters in Mandalay” and  “no one should be harmed for exercising the right to dissent.”

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