The fatal shooting of a security guard in Myanmar’s largest city was confirmed by family members Sunday, bringing the weekend death toll from the suppression of anti-military demonstrations to three, as the junta imposed curfews ahead of major nationwide protests planned to start the week.
Monday marks three weeks since the army deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government. It also falls on Feb. 22, spawning what protest leaders in the numerology-loving country are calling the “Five Twos” mass strike and demonstration, to be staged on 2/22/2021.
Military leaders announced a round-the-clock curfew Monday for Yangon, where protest plans evoke memories of the “8888 Uprising,” a defining event in the country’s democracy movement that produced Aung San Suu Kyi.
On August 8, 1988, students launched nationwide protests against decades of entrenched military rule that were put down by the army weeks later, with thousands killed.
For Monday, protest leaders are calling on businesses, factories and public institutions to shut to halt operations in the biggest in weeks of protests calling for a reversal of the Feb. 1 military takeover. They are encouraging civil servants to defy regime threats to arrest those who refuse to work under the junta.
The State Administration Council, the formal name of the junta, has ordered telecommunications and data service providers to cut the Internet from midnight to noon Monday, the Ooredoo Myanmar news site told RFA, in the latest of repeated communications cutoffs aimed at dampening discontent.
The latest shooting death took place Saturday night in a suburb of Yangon, where Yin Htut Hein, a 30-year-old night security guard, was shot in the head by a policemen in a patrol car and died instantly.
“He was on night watch duty on the street for the neighborhood when, a police car came by,” a witness said.
“The man stopped the car and asked, ‘Where are you going? What are you going to do? But the police cursed him and shot him in the head three times. He was dead on the spot,” said the witness, who added that the police car went drove off the Hlawga police station.
Videos shared by witnesses on social media showed five police officers and two men in plainclothes with guns drawn in patrol police car, from which gunshots rang out.
Tin Htut Hein is survived by his widow and a five-year-old child.
“I was told that police apologized to my father-in-law and requested him not to file the case,” said his widow, Thin Thin.
“But for me, I want the truth. I’ve lost my husband — a human being, not a bird or a chicken. I want the perpetrators out. It was the intentional bullying of a citizen with arms,” she said as she wept.
“People initially gathered at the police station because they were very angry, but we do not want to give the junta the pretext of ‘angry people have overtaken the police station,’ so we asked them to disperse, and they dispersed,” said Aung Zaw Htwe, the local MP from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.
RFA tried to reach the Shwepyithar police station in Yangon for reaction and comments but received no reply.
Earlier Saturday in Mandalay, two protesters were shot dead when riot police fired rubber and live bullets at a crowd trying to stop soldiers and police from storming a major river transport hub to force striking shipyard workers and other shipping civil servants back to work after they’d walked off the job to join demonstrations.
“Myanmar security forces’ use of lethal force against protesters in the streets of Mandalay is outrageous and unacceptable, and must be urgently investigated,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Those responsible for the deaths and severe injuries of those protesters must be held accountable, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said in a statement, calling for international condemnation of what he said was a clear violation international human rights law.
Thousands of protesters and civil servants staged a sit-in strike at Zaygyo, Mandalay’s largest market complex, on Sunday to the previous day’s crackdown and shooting deaths.
In response to killings, Facebook announced it had removed the junta’s official information page, a move that followed the banning of the military-owned Myawaddy TV’s page from the platform after the Feb. 1 coup.
Sunday also saw tens of thousands of mourners and protesters turn outed for a funeral procession through the capital Naypyidaw for a 20-year-old protester who was shot in the head in the capital Naypyidaw on Feb. 9 and died Friday.
Some 30,000 civil servants, students, and activists escorted the body of Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing from the hospital where she died Gwe Gyi Cemetery, where her remains were cremated and her ashes were buried.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Paul Eckert.