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Myanmar: Soldiers Fire at Crowds of Protesters


A large image that has an X mark on the face of Commander in chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, also chairman of the State Administrative Council, lies on a road as anti-coup protesters gather outside the Hledan Centre in Yangon, Myanmar, Feb. 14, 2021.

Security forces in Myanmar opened fire on protesters Sunday, as demonstrations against military rule in the country enter their second week.

There was no immediate confirmation of a death toll and no comment from the government.

The soldiers were deployed to protests at a power plant in the Northern state of Kachin Sunday. Videos from the protest show members of the military firing into crowds to disperse them, but it was not clear whether the bullets were rubber or live ammunition.

The U.S. Embassy in Yangon warned there was a possibility of an internet interruption overnight between 1:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. local time.

The protests come as the military junta continues to tighten its grip on power more than a week after ousting de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. One of her closest aides, Kyaw Tint Swe, was among a handful of members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party taken from their homes by security forces overnight and detained. The leadership of Myanmar’s electoral commission has also reportedly been detained. The commission rejected the military’s claims of widespread fraud in November’s elections, which the NLD won in a landslide.

The military has also reportedly been cracking down on ethnic minorities, including the Kachin – during protests against military rule.

In addition to protests, government employees and civil servants are on strike, resulting in disruption in train services throughout the country. The junta has ordered civil servants back to work and threatened action against them.

The military has arrested protesters en masse nightly since demonstrations began. On Saturday, leaders gave the military sweeping powers to search private property.

Suu Kyi’s detention is set to expire on Monday, but the military leader, Min Aung Hlaing, has not specified what will happen.

The military used the claims of election fraud as justification for the February 1 coup and subsequent detention of Suu Kyi and senior members of the civilian government. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup, promised last week in a nationally televised speech that new elections would be held to bring a "true and disciplined democracy,” but did not specify when they would take place.

The military declared a one-year state of emergency. Suu Kyi, under house arrest at her official residence in the capital, Naypyitaw, is facing charges of illegally importing and using six unregistered walkie-talkie radios found during a search of her home.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have filled the streets of Myanmar’s biggest cities in defiance of a strict curfew and a ban on gatherings of more than four people, holding signs with pro-democracy slogans, many of them with pictures of Suu Kyi.

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