Myanmar military shoots protesting medical workers
The Burmese military opened fire on protesting healthcare workers on Thursday, killing at least one bystander as protesters fled to a nearby mosque.
The country has been in turmoil since the military seized power from civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, triggering a massive uprising that the junta sought to quell using deadly force.
But the move was not deterred, and protesters continued to take to the streets this week – refusing to celebrate Myanmar’s New Years holiday in Thingyan.
On Thursday, in Myanmar’s second largest city, Mandalay, a protest by medical workers turned violent when soldiers opened fire on them, sending them running towards the mosque.
“They were shooting everywhere … they were targeting the Sule Mosque compound because people were hiding protesters there,” an eyewitness said.
A 30-year-old man who lived in the compound was shot dead and at least two others were injured, said a doctor who treated the injured.
“The man who died was shot in the back and penetrated his chest,” he told AFP.
A doctor who participated in the protest said he saw the arrest of six nurses and doctors during the crackdown.
“We have also lost contact with some members of the medical team,” he told AFP.
Myanmar’s healthcare workers have been at the forefront of a nationwide civil disobedience movement, refusing to return to work under military rule – which has left the country’s hospitals unstaffed during a pandemic .
Officials from other sectors followed suit, shutting down the country’s banks, schools, railways and businesses.
The junta tried to force people back to work and on Thursday state media reported that at least 20 doctors involved in the movement would be charged with trying to “deteriorate peace and stability.”
So far, more than 700 civilians have been killed in anti-coup unrest, according to a local watchdog group, and more than 3,000 have been arrested.
A well-known protest leader was arrested Thursday in the center of Monywa town – he was leading a protest on a motorcycle when a car hit him.
“Wai Moe Naing was arrested … I saw his motorbike hitting the car from a distance,” Hein Zaw Win, another activist, told AFP.
The leader had grown in importance since the coup, leading the movement in the remote region of Sagaing despite multiple deadly repressions by the authorities.