At Least 18 Killed in Myanmar on Bloodiest Day of Protests

Protest held in Omaha against military coup in Myanmar

Protest held in Omaha against military coup in Myanmar

Myanmar's crisis took a dramatic turn on the worldwide stage at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday when the country's U.N. ambassador declared his loyalty to the ousted civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and called on the world to pressure the military to cede power.

Crowds of demonstrators came under fire in various parts of the biggest city of Yangon after stun grenades, tear gas and shots in the air failed to break up their protests on Sunday.

Several journalists documenting Saturday's assaults by security forces were detained, including an Associated Press photographer in Yangon. The journalist, Thein Zaw, remains in police custody.

"And we believe this can only begin if President Win Myint, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, and other detainees are immediately released", said Dr Balakrishnan during the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Committee of Supply debate. "AP decries in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zaw", said Ian Phillips, AP vice-president for global news.

The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reported that there had been 19 confirmed deaths in nine cities, with another 10 deaths unconfirmed.

Marchers there split into smaller groups, parading through the city to the applause of bystanders who also made the three-finger salutes adopted by the resistance movement to show their support.

Myanmar security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least eight, according to AFP sources in the country including rescue workers, in the bloodiest action so far to smother opposition to the military coup four weeks ago. Witnesses said Sunday's march was also large and people were determined not to be driven off the streets.

Confirming the deaths of protesters has been hard amid the chaos and general lack of news from official sources, especially in areas outside Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw, the capital.

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, as of Saturday, 854 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced at one point in relation to the coup, and 771 were being detained or sought for arrest.

Myanmar has been facing weeks of protests, which have become increasingly deadly, since the country's military ousted the elected civilian government in a coup on 1 February.

Videos posted to social media captured the escalating confrontations between protesters and security forces. Local media outlet Mizzima also reported the death in Yangon's Thingangyun township.

Photos posted on social media showed a wounded man in the care of medical personnel, and later laid out in a bed under a blanket with flowers placed on top.

The independent media company counted five deaths in Yangon and two in Mandalay, the largest and second-largest cities, respectively.

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Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing said last week authorities were using minimal force to deal with the protests.

USA officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the violence.

"Police and military forces have confronted peaceful demonstrations, using lethal force and less-than-lethal force that - according to credible information received by the UN Human Rights Office - has left at least 18 people dead and over 30 wounded", the United Nations human rights office said.

Washington has imposed sanctions on Myanmar because of the coup, and Sullivan said it would "impose further costs on those responsible", promising details "in the coming days".

The coup, which brought a halt to tentative steps towards democracy after almost 50 years of military rule, has drawn hundreds of thousands onto the streets and the condemnation of Western countries.

The violence started early in the morning as medical students marched in Yangon's streets near the Hledan Center intersection.

Tear gas was also reportedly used in various locations as well as flash-bang and stun grenades. Nearby, residents were pleading with police to release those they picked up from the street and shoved into police trucks to be taken away.

It was not clear how many were detained on Sunday. "Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under worldwide human rights norms", it added.

United Nations envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener reiterated during the session that the use of lethal force against protesters was "unacceptable".

Feb 13: The junta suspends laws constraining security forces from detaining suspects or searching private property without court approval and orders the arrest of well-known backers of mass protests.

Several people were also hurt in the second city of Mandalay.

Many of those detained were taken to Insein Prison in Yangon's northern outskirts, historically notorious for holding political prisoners.

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