U.S. condemns fatal shootings of protesters

Anti-coup protesters hold placards as they protest against the military coup Saturday, February 20, 2021, in Yangon, Myanmar.

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The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar on Saturday released a statement condemning the fatal police shootings of two anti-coup protestors in Mandalay, the nation’s second-largest city, following weeks of demonstrations.

“No one should be harmed for exercising the right to dissent,” the embassy stated in a Twitter post. “We are deeply troubled by the fatal shooting of protestors in Mandalay, a day after the death of Mya Thwe Thwe Khine in Nay Pyi Taw. The military must stop violence against the people of Myanmar.”

One of the victims was shot in the head and died on the scene, according to local reports. Another was shot in the chest and died on the way to the hospital. He was identified by relatives as Thet Naing Win, a 36-year-old carpenter, Reuters reports.

The shootings occurred near Mandalay’s Yadanabon dock, where roughly 500 police and soldiers came to the area after dock workers joined the protest against the military junta that seized power in a Feb. 1 coup.

Security forces used water cannons, tear gas, slingshots and rubber bullets against demonstrators and struck dock workers.

Picture of Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing is displayed by anti-coup protesters near Myaynigone junction Saturday, February 20, 2021, in Yangon, Myanmar.

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At least five people were injured by rubber bullets and had to be carried away in ambulances, according to an Associated Press journalist on the scene.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab condemned the shooting of peaceful protestors in Myanmar: “We will consider further action, with our international partners, against those crushing democracy & choking dissent,” he said in a Tweet.

The two fatalities and additional serious injuries come a day after the death of Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, who was shot in the capital, Naypyitaw, on Feb. 9 and spent more than a week on life support in the hospital. Her death Friday was the first confirmed fatality among thousands of protestors demanding the restoration of the elected government and release of lawmakers, including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, who were rounded up in the coup.

Video from the day she was shot show her sheltering from water cannons, when she dropped to the ground after a bullet penetrated the motorcycle helmet she was wearing.

A protester has her head bandaged after being beaten by security forces during a demonstration against the military coup in Mandalay on February 20, 2021.

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U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price offered his government’s condolences Friday and reiterated calls on the military to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters.

On Feb. 10, President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on military leaders in Myanmar who directed the coup that deposed and detained its elected leader Suu Kyi and others. He announced the government was working to freeze some $1 billion in assets within the U.S. that Myanmar’s military leaders have access to.

A protester is led away after being detained by security forces during a demonstration against the military coup in Mandalay on February 20, 2021.

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Biden said Myanmar’s “military must relinquish the power it seized” on Feb. 1 and release its prisoners, and called on the military to refrain from using violence, as it has, against protestors exercising their democratic rights to object to the coup.

The national civil disobedience movement showed no signs of slowing despite recent crackdowns by the military government.

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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