Number of Civilians Slain by Junta’s Forces Grows As High School Student, Mother Among Killed

By The Irrawaddy 20 March 2021

With the deaths of a high school student and the mother of three children, the total number of civilians slain by Myanmar’s military regime has reached 238.

The two were among seven killed on late Friday night and Saturday by the junta’s security forces.

Since early February, the junta has staged fatal crackdowns on protesters across the country who are opposed to military rule. Myanmar’s armed forces seized power in a coup on Feb. 1.

The regime’s deadly response to civilian opposition has sent shock waves internationally, prompting condemnations from the United Nations and the leaders of a number of Western countries as well as some in Southeast Asia.

Saturday marked the sixth week of protest against the regime. Despite the bloody crackdowns and arrests, Saturday’s protests across the country provided evidence that the anti-regime movement is not on the wane.

Aung Kaung Htet,15, of Yangon’s Thaketa Township, proved that with his life.

His neighbors remembered the high school student as a “very active boy” who had taken part in every anti-regime protest in the area since February.

Locals said soldiers and police stormed into their neighborhood about 3 p.m. when protesters, including Aung Kaung Htet, were already dispersing.

“They sprayed live rounds for nearly 10 minutes,” a witness told The Irrawaddy.

Medics and people carry the body of Ko Thet Paing Soe on Saturday in Yangon. (CJ)

A bullet pierced Aung Kuang Htet’s cheek before exiting through his neck. Despite being rushed to a hospital, the boy didn’t make it, becoming one of the youngest martyrs of the anti-regime protest.

A few hours before the high school student was hit, Ko Thet Paing Soe, 28, lay in the pool of blood in Kyaukmyoung in Tamwe Township in Yangon after being hit in the head by a bullet from security forces. His family held his funeral in a rush,within hours after his death, for they feared that police and soldiers would come to seize the body. Security forces have done that in some cases.

In Myanmar’s upcountry town Pakokku in Magwe Region, Daw Malar Win, 39, stepped out of her home to learn what was going on when she heard gunfire in her neighborhood on Friday night. It turned out that police and soldiers had launched an assault on people who had taken to the street in defiance.

“She is just an onlooker. She couldn’t run when soldiers stormed into the street and was beaten. She was on her knees and pleaded with them not to arrest her,” a witness told The Irrawaddy.

But the mother of three children was hit in her thigh, beaten and taken away. On Saturday morning, her family was told to retrieve her body.

“There are bruises on her face. It’s evident that she was tortured [while in] custody,” said a student union member who helped the family retrieve the body.

On the same night in Yangon, Ko Kyaw Zwa and Ko Myo Myint Aung, 27, were on their neighborhood watch duty to alert residents in case of night raids by thugs and soliders in Hlaing Township. Soldiers and police arrived about 10:30 p.m. and started shooting.

“Ko Myo Myint Aung was shot when he rushed to help Ko Kyaw Zwa who was [had been hit] in the head. He was hit in the arm-pit, and the doctor said the bullet his pierced lungs and heart,” a family member confirmed to The Irrawaddy.

The military-owned Myawady Television channel said two men died as soldiers and police fired warning shots in Hlaing Township on “just to scare off those who attacked security forces.”

Mourners flash the three-finger defiance sluate at Ko Thet Paing Soe’s funeral in Yangon on Saturday. (CJ)

In Myanmar’s ruby town Moggok in Mandalay Region, 26-year-old Ko Naing Lin Aung faced the same fate when he was on neighborhood vigilante duty on Friday night.

On Saturday in Bago, a town in north of Yangon, a man was shot dead after being hit in the head. Three people were wounded by security force gunfire.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday strongly condemned the continuing brutal violence by the military in Myanmar.

He said the military continued to defy calls, including by the Security Council, to end violations of fundamental human rights and return to the path of democracy. He added that a firm, unified international response was urgently needed.

In response to the military brutal responses to protesters, Indonesia President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called for a special ASEAN summit to address the situation, in the member country.

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