More killings in Myanmar as military junta steps up violence

Hong Kong protest documentary nominated for an Oscar

  • More killings in Myanmar as protests continue and 74 people killed in a single day.
  • London police stoke anger after forcefully dispersing vigil of murder victim.
  • Hong Kong protest documentary nominated for an Oscar.

More killings in Myanmar this week as violence intensified. Protesters continue to fight a repressive military government used slingshots and Molotov cocktails against the gas and bullets wielded by the authorities. In the bloodiest day since the unrest started almost seven weeks ago, as many as 74 people were killed by authorities on 14 March.

According to various estimates, more than 200 people have been killed since the military took over the government on 1 February. At least two people were shot on 17 March. While the protests have been generally peaceful, the conflict has intensified over the past two weeks. Military authorities imposed martial law in parts of the country and the response by police has grown increasingly violent.

In turn, protesters are using placards and coconuts painted with the words “Spring Revolution”, Canada’s Globe and Mail Reported. One image that has been widely distributed, of a nun kneeling in front of armed security forces, led to a response from Pope Francis, who called for the bloodshed to end.

The Strait Times, a newspaper in Singapore, reported on 11 March that six people were killed in the town of Myaing after forces fired on protesters. On 14 March, security forces used live ammunination on multiple areas and 74 people died across the country, the bloodiest day so far.

Communications in and out of the country are generally blocked and internet access limited, but videos and commentary coming out of the country, often via mobile phone, include reports of multiple deaths and the military using live rounds on protesters.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a non-profit monitoring the events in the country, there are now 2,258 political prisoners in the country (up from 2,045 last week). On 18 March, the group said two people were killed in Bago Region and a third in Yangon. The group also said that, on that same day, “residents were photographed being forced by the military to remove sandbag barricades and stickers from the streets”. The group also said that the use of physical and mental torture on prisoners is increasing.

In turn, the ruling military junta, known as the State Administration Council, said on 16 March that it will try criminal cases in areas under martial law, including capital offences. This week, the junta expanded on its martial law orders on at least six townships in the capital of Yangon, Nikkei Asia reported quoting a state-owned newspaper. The offences now included cover high treason, sedition, violating media laws and spreading news the junta deems to be false. Convictions cannot be appealed and carry possible penalties of “unlimited years” of prison.

The United Nations’ Security Council has issued a statement regarding its concerns of unfolding events in the Asian nation.

“The Council (…) highlighted that the current situation has the potential to exacerbate existing challenges in Rakhine state and other regions,” it said. “It is vital that the rights of minorities are fully protected,” it added.

Members of the ousted ruling party, the National League for Democracy, have formed a Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the term for “Union Parliament”. The group, crated by members of the party led by former State Counsellor Aung Suu Kyi, has been deemed treasounous by the junta.

Hong Kong: Oscar documentary

A 35-minute documentary about the protest movement that rocked Hong Kong in 2019 was nominated for an Oscar.

The documentary, Do Not Split, was done by Anders Hammer and was nominated in the Best Short Documentary category. According to various reports, China is asking domestic media to not carry the Oscars event live as a result of the nomination.

Colombia: Highways blocked

Protests in different regions of Colombia took place during the week, with some highways affected by protestors.

In the national highway that connects the city of Medellin with the department of Chocó, protestors attacked public transportation vehicles targeted. A truck was burnt, three people were arrested and about a dozen of people were injured.

Down in the South of Colombia, in the PanAmerican highway, the one that connects Argentina with Alaska, protestors blocked the road, demanding the national government to attend their multiple social demands. Many of the protestors are of indigenous origin.

Peru: Infrastructure disrupted

Peru’s PanAmerican Highway was also targeted by protestors against the government of President Francisco Sagasti. Unrest in the South American country was triggered by an increase in the price of fuel ordered by the national government.

The blockade of the international highway disrupted the supply of medical supplies and oxygen to some of the country’s rural areas from the neighboring country of Chile.

Paraguay: Political crisis

The Latin American country continues to be immersed in a deep political crisis, while a large group of citizens demand president Mario Abdo Benitez to step down, due to the way on how the government has managed the COVID-19 pandemic also affecting the country.

At least five people were arrested on March 17, during large protests against the Congress, which declined to impeach president Abdo Benitez. The headquarters of the Colorado Party, the official party, were set on fire by protestors.

Bolivia: Huge protests

Large protests were recorded in the Latin American country following the arrest of former president Jeanine Áñez, who ruled the country between 2019 and 2020, following the resignation of president Evo Morales, who held the power since 2006.

Áñez, who was the president of the Congress prior to becoming the interim president of the country, is being charged for allegedly orchestrating a coup against Morales, whose party took back the power during the 2020 elections organized by Áñez for the power transition.

United States: Police at fault

Protests broke out on 11 March outside the Mark Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Protesters set fires and police used tear gas and chemical munitions to move the crowd. According to reports, there were 50 to 60 people that set to rip down plywood, spray graffitti and set fires, mostly on trash cans. At least one person was arrested.

Separately, an independed commission of the Los Angeles City Council, placed blame on the shoulders of the city’s police department for mishandling protests in 2020 after the death of George Floyd on 25 May 2020. Floyd died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes to subdue him, even though he was not resisting.

The 101-page report said the department was not prepared for the extent and strength of the protests, the New York Times reported.

United Kingdom: Vigil disrupted

Controversy erupted in the United Kingdom after police broke out a vigil of mostly women to mark the kidnapping and death of Sara Everard, 33.

Everard was last seen on 3 March. She was grabbed off a busy London street and later killed. A Metropolitan Police officer that was a member of the diplomatic protection command has been charged with the murder of the marketing executive.

The case has sent shockwaves through the UK and an impromptu event sprang on 13 March. By evening, around 1,000 people had gathered around London’s Clapham Common. The event violated COVID laws against gatherings and police were at times aggressive in dispersing attendees.

The police response triggered a wave of anger and Mayor Sadiq Khan called said it was “neither appropriate nor proportionate”, NBC News reported.


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