Sunday's death toll rises to 71 in crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar

Rescue workers carry a civilian wounded by the security forces firing at anti-regime protesters in Mandalay on Sunday. Photo and caption by The Irrawaddy

This article was originally published in The Irrawaddy, an independent news website in Myanmar, and is edited and republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

UPDATE: Thirty-two more deaths have been reported from Sunday, bringing the total to 71, and making it the bloodiest day since the February 1 coup, as Myanmar’s regime steps up its crackdowns on protesters. The total death toll reached 167 on Monday afternoon (March 15).

Myanmar saw another record-breaking day of protest-related deaths on Sunday as more than 39 anti-regime protesters were killed across the country by security forces, pushing the total death toll since the coup was launched last month to 134.

The previous bloodiest day the Southeast Asian country experienced was March 3, when 28 people were slain by soldiers and police across the country during anti-junta street protests.

In Sunday's series of deadly crackdowns on sit-in protests against the regime in Yangon’s western Hlaing Thar Yar Township, security forces used live rounds, tear gas and stun grenades to attack anti-regime protesters. Security forces opened gunfire from 9:30 a.m. to late evening.

According to the Facebook page of a doctor who cared for the injured at a township hospital, 18 protestors were shot dead and several others wounded on Sunday evening. She said that one of two protesters who were shot in the head is in critical condition. The death toll is expected to climb higher as some were seriously wounded during the police shooting.

In South Dagon Township in eastern Yangon, three civilians, including a 15-year-old girl, died after being shot in the head and abdomen. According to one of the protesters, police and soldiers began shooting at demonstrators at 6:00 p.m. and continued to 11:00 p.m. The protester said 15 people had been critically wounded. In all, about 50 people were wounded in South Dagon.

Security forces also cracked down on an anti-regime protest by students at Bago on Sunday morning. During the crackdown, a young boy was shot dead, while three more people were injured. On Sunday afternoon, a woman was shot dead by security forces, and her body left in a drain after she was killed.

In Hpakan, the jade-mining hub in Kahcin State, a 30-year-old man was shot dead and six others were wounded when live rounds were fired at protesters on Sunday morning.

One woman was shot dead and six other people were wounded in Myanmar’s second largest city, Mandalay, in similar action by police and soldiers on Sunday afternoon.

Yangon saw the most severe level of crackdown yet on Sunday. Apart from the 18 people killed in Hlaing Tha Yar, 17 other protesters were reportedly killed during police attacks against protesters in several of Yangon’s townships including Shwepyithar, North Oakkalapa, South Dagon, Insein, Hlaing, Thingyangyun and North Dagon.

A protester who took part in the demonstration in Yangon’s Hlaingtharyar Township where several protesters were killed, told The Irrawaddy:

These shooting are totally unacceptable. They are not dispersing the protests. They are just murdering the people with violence.

In Yangon’s Tamwe Township, a junior medical student was shot by security forces from the township police station. Video records showed policemen dragging away the young man’s wounded, bloodied body while kicking and beating a woman who was trying to save the student. She was taken away by the police. As of Sunday evening, the student was still in critical condition, according to close friends.

Anti-regime protests have erupted across Myanmar for more than a month following a coup on February 1. Since mid-February, the junta has been intensifying bloody crackdowns against the protesters across the country while claiming that “minimum use of force” was being applied for crowd control.

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