New Delhi: Amid relentless protests against military rule re-imposed on February 1, which has since claimed 580 lives, Myanmar armed forces fired at angry anti-coup activists on Wednesday, killing at least seven people and wounding many, media reports said.
The pro-democracy protesters also set on fire a Chinese-owned factory in the commercial capital Yangon while activists burned down the Chinese flag at another place, as nationwide civil disobedience movement (CMD) continued, forcing an official to admit that it was “destroying” the country.
According to an activists’ group, more than 580 people have been killed in the Myanmar turmoil since the coup that ended a brief period of civilian-led democracy. Nationwide protests and strikes have since persisted despite the military’s use of lethal force to quell the escalating crisis.
On Wednesday, the Tatmadaw (army’s) troops opened fire on protesters in the north-western town of Kale where they demanded the restoration of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government.
Meanwhile, a fire was reported in the Chinese-owned JOC Garment Factory in Yangon on Wednesday. No early reports of casualties and the extent of damage were available.
In another incident in Yangon, demonstrators set fire to the Chinese flag.
The Myanmar people have condemned China for its indirect support to the military junta. In February also, the activists had set afire 32 Chinese-invested factories in Yangon.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who heads the junta, said in a statement on Wednesday that the CDM had halted the working of hospitals, schools, roads, offices, and factories.
“Although protests are staged elsewhere also, they do not destroy businesses,” he said. “CDM is an activity to destroy the country.”
According to the Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group, 581 people, including dozens of children, have been shot dead by troops and police in almost daily unrest since the coup. Security forces have arrested close to 3,500 people, with 2,750 still detained.
The authorities have curbed broadband wireless service and mobile data services to control the mostly youth-led anti-coup movement’s ability to organize campaigns and share information via social media and instant messaging.
Scores of journalists, comedians, actors, influencers, entertainers, artists, and musicians, including comedy king Zarganar, have been arrested along with hundreds of others.
Several countries, including the US, Australia, and the European Union, have denounced the military coup in Myanmar, and some have also imposed sanctions. Britain and Indonesia are trying to muster a Southeast Asian joint effort to resolve the Myanmar crisis.
Russia, which supported the ruling junta, on Tuesday said the West risked triggering civil war by imposing sanctions on the junta.
Some ethnic minority forces, which control large swathes of border regions, have said they cannot stand by as the junta kills people and have already engaged the military in skirmishes.