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Protesters in Myanmar defy repression, five killed; junta hunts critics

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(Reuters) – Myanmar security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protests on Saturday, killing at least five people, a protester and media said as the military stepped up its efforts to end dissent with arrest warrants for critics. internet and internet blocks.

Protesters gather behind a barricade during a protest against the military coup in Monywa, Burma April 3, 2021 in this photo taken by Reuters. PHOTO EXPECTED BY REUTERS

Despite the killing of more than 550 people by security forces since the February 1 coup, protesters are coming out every day, often in smaller groups in smaller cities, to express opposition to the resumption of military rule.

Security forces in the central city of Monywa, which has seen large-scale protests day after day for weeks, fired on a crowd, killing at least four people and injuring several, two media organizations said.

They started firing incessantly with both stun grenades and live ammunition, Reuters told protesters in Monywa, who declined to be identified, through a messaging app.

People retreated and quickly set up … obstacles, but a bullet hit a person in front of me in the head. He died on the spot.

A man was shot and killed in the southern city of Thaton, the online news portal Bago Weekly Journal and residents reported. Police also shot in the central city of Bago, injuring a man.

Police and a junta spokesman did not respond to calls for comment.

The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, in a statement earlier in the day, said security forces had killed 550 people, 46 of them children, since the army overthrew an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of people in the early days of opposition in major cities have become rarer with coup opponents approving guerrilla rallies – small and quick demonstrations of the challenge before security forces can respond.

People also gather at night for candlelight vigils.

“People are still protesting every day because we strongly believe this is a war between good and evil,” protest leader Tayzar San said in an audio message to Reuters.

Authorities are also conducting a campaign to control the information. They had shut down mobile data and on Friday ordered internet providers to cut off the wireless band, depriving most customers of access, even though some messages and photos were still being posted and shared on social media.

Authorities issued orders for 18 celebrities, including social media influencers and two journalists, under an anti-material law aimed at inciting a member of the insurgent armed forces or disregarding their duty, state media reported late Friday. The charge could carry a three-year prison sentence.

Actress Paing Phyoe Thu, who regularly attended rallies in Yangon’s main city in the weeks following the coup, said she would not attend.

Whether an order has been issued or not, as long as I am alive I am sick against the military dictatorship that harasses and kills people. The revolution must prevail, she said on Facebook.

Her whereabouts were not immediately known.

The silence of voices?

State broadcaster MRTV announced guarantees for 18 with screenshots and links to their Facebook profiles.

While the military has banned platforms like Facebook, it has continued to use social media to follow critics and promote its message.

The United States condemned the shutdown.

Hopefully this will not silence the voices of the people, said a State Department spokeswoman, Jalina Porter.

The United States and other Western countries have denounced the coup and called for the release of Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign against military rule. She is accused of violating an official secret act punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The coup has rekindled old wars with ethnic minority forces seeking autonomy in the north and east.

Myanmar’s oldest insurgent group, the Karen National Union (KNU), has seen its first military airstrikes on its forces in more than 20 years, after announcing its support for the pro-democracy movement.

The KNU, which signed a ceasefire with the government in 2012, said more than 12,000 villagers had fled their homes due to airstrikes. He called for an international embargo on arms sales to the military.

The media has reported that about 20 people have been killed in airstrikes in KNU territory in recent days, including nearly a dozen in a group-run gold mine.

Fighting has also erupted in the north between the army and ethnic Kachin insurgents. The riots have sent several thousand refugees fleeing to Thailand and India.

Reporting by Reuters staff; Written by Robert Birsel; Edited by Edwina and William Mallard

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