Violence escalated in Myanmar on Wednesday, resulting in at least 38 people losing their lives after protests began on February 1 following a military takeover of the government. Video footage and photos released on Thursday shows protesters violently attacked as they fight back against the anti-democracy military junta.
On February 20, The Daily Wire reported that two people had been killed due to the unrest in Myanmar, “resulting in the most violent day since the military takeover of the government on February 1.” On Wednesday, that number changed dramatically.
U.N. Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener confirmed in a briefing that Wednesday was “the bloodiest day since the coup happened on the first of February.” According to CNN, Burgener continued, “Every tool available is needed now to stop this situation…We need a unity of the international community, so it’s up to the member states to take the right measures.”
The AP reports on the details of the footage. “Videos showed security forces shooting a person at point-blank range and chasing down and savagely beating demonstrators…In other footage, about two dozen security forces, some with their firearms drawn, chase two people wearing the construction helmets donned by many protesters down a street. When they catch up to the people, they repeatedly beat them with rods and kick them. One of the officers is filming the scene on his cell phone.”
The video evidence has led to a stronger response from the international community than had been previously reported, but some wonder if it will lead to action. The U.N. Security Council is set to gather on Friday in a closed-door meeting.
On Twitter, a U.N. expert on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, stressed the importance of leaders witnessing the violence displayed in the videos. He wrote, “The systematic brutality of the military junta is once again on horrific display throughout Myanmar. I urge members of the UN Security Council to view the photos/videos of the shocking violence being unleashed on peaceful protesters before meeting in Friday’s closed-door session.”
The systematic brutality of the military junta is once again on horrific display throughout Myanmar. I urge members of the UN Security Council to view the photos/videos of the shocking violence being unleashed on peaceful protesters before meeting in Friday's close-door session. pic.twitter.com/6owx7ybhcN
— UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews (@RapporteurUn) March 4, 2021
Journalists are also being targeted by the military during the protests and uprisings. An Associated Press journalist was handcuffed and put in a chokehold, according to reports and footage of the incident.
The AP details the assault:
“The video starts with [journalist] Thein Zaw standing by the side of a road on Saturday photographing dozens of security forces as they run at a group of protesters in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. Several police run at him, and he tries to escape. At least seven surround him as he is placed in a chokehold. He is pushed and shoved and quickly handcuffed. A policeman with a bullhorn then uses the handcuffs to pull him away.”
Ian Phillips, AP’s Vice President for International News, called for the release of the journalist on Wednesday, saying, “Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution. AP condemns the charge against Thein Zaw and his arbitrary detention.”
The United States has been vocal about its disapproval of the violence in the region, as well. According to Reuters, “U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said he was ‘appalled and revulsed’ by reports and images of a crackdown on protesters, in which Myanmar security forces killed at least 38 people on Wednesday.”
The U.S. also urged Myanmar officials to free the AP journalist, as well as five other media members. “We are deeply concerned about the increasing attacks on and arrests of journalists,” said Price. “We call on the military to immediately release these individuals and to cease intimidation and harassment of the media and others unjustly detained merely for doing their jobs.”
The U.S. previously sanctioned those who are involved with the military takeover, as well as some military organizations. However, Price also said that the U.S. is considering further action as it tries to bolster a reaction from the international community.
“We call on all countries to speak with one voice to condemn brutal violence by the Burmese military against its own people and to promote accountability for the military’s actions that have led to the loss of life of so many people in Burma,” said Price.
Social media companies have also recently taken note of the growing violence in the region. The Daily Wire reported last week that Facebook decided to ban Myanmar’s military accounts on Instagram and Facebook in an attempt to protect the citizens of Myanmar.
The Daily Wire reported, “The social media company announced it is “banning the remaining Myanmar military (‘Tatmadaw’) and military-controlled state and media entities from Facebook and Instagram, as well as ads from military-linked commercial entities.”
Protesters returned to the streets on Thursday in spite of the violence from the previous day. Police reportedly used tear gas on gatherings in Yangon and signaled a show of strength through a formation flyover of five military planes in Mandalay.
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