Myanmar’s military government has accused deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi of accepting illegal payments as eight people were killed when security forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters, witnesses and local media say.
Rights group Amnesty International accused the military of adopting battle tactics against demonstrators.
Six people were killed in the central town of Myaing when forces fired on a protest, a man who took part in the demonstration and helped carry bodies to hospital told Reuters by telephone. A health worker there confirmed all six deaths.
“We protested peacefully,” the 31-year-old man said. “I couldn’t believe they did it.”
We verified more than 50 videos from the ongoing #MyanmarCoup crackdown.
Today we're releasing new research which shows the military deploying their murderous methods & troops to the country's cities & towns.#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar
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One person was killed in the North Dagon district of the biggest city of Yangon, domestic media said. Photographs posted on Facebook showed a man lying prone on the street, bleeding from a head wound. One death was reported in Mandalay.
Before Thursday’s deaths, an advocacy group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, had said more than 60 protesters were killed and about 2000 people detained by security forces since the February 1 coup against Ms Suu Kyi’s elected government.
Amnesty International accused the army of using lethal force against protesters and said many killings it had documented amounted to extra-judicial executions.
“These are not the actions of overwhelmed, individual officers making poor decisions,” said Joanne Mariner, the group’s director of crisis response.
“These are unrepentant commanders already implicated in crimes against humanity, deploying their troops and murderous methods in the open.”
Detained at night, lifeless by morning: Arrests under Myanmar’s junta
A growing number of protesters have disappeared into military custody, with the authorities providing no information about their location, well-being or the charges against themhttps://t.co/Q958yW9YLR
— Myanmar Now (@Myanmar_Now_Eng) March 11, 2021
A military spokesman declined to comment on the violence.
The junta has previously said it is acting with utmost restraint in handling what it describes as demonstrations by “riotous protesters” whom it accuses of attacking police and harming national security and stability.
The spokesman, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, told a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that Ms Suu Kyi had accepted illegal payments worth $US600,000 ($778,000) as well as gold while in government.
The information had been verified and many people were being questioned, he added.
He said President Win Myint and several cabinet ministers had also engaged in corruption and that he had pressured the country’s election commission not to act on the military’s reports of irregularities.
The army has justified the takeover by saying that a November election, overwhelmingly won by Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, was marred by fraud – an assertion rejected by the electoral commission.
Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun also reiterated that the military would only be in charge for a certain period before holding an election. The junta has previously promised a new election within a year, but has not set a date.
The UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned violence against protesters and urged the army to show restraint.
But language that would have denounced the military takeover as a coup or threatened possible further action was removed from the British-drafted text, due to opposition by China, India, Russia and Vietnam.