Myanmar coup: Activists vow to keep fighting on deadliest day since military takeover

Activists in Myanmar have vowed bullets will not deter them from their fight to overturn the country’s military coup.

The United Nations says 38 people were killed on Wednesday – the bloodiest day since last month’s widely condemned takeover by army generals.

Four children were among the latest fatalities, according to Save the Children, and corroborating reports inside the country suggest that more than 50 people have died in total.

Protesters have taken to the streets of the country since the 1 February coup, which saw democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi taken into military custody.

In response, security forces have fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds in several towns and cities.

But activist Maung Saungkha said those demonstrating were undeterred by the violence.

He told Reuters: “We know that we can always get shot and killed with live bullets but there is no meaning to staying alive under the junta.”

On Friday, the 15-member UN Security Council – of which the UK currently holds the presidency – is due to discuss the worsening situation, and call for China to play a more constructive role in quelling the violence.

China has steadfastly declined to condemn the coup, with Chinese state media dismissing events merely as a “major cabinet reshuffle”.

Fighter jets made several low passes in formation over the second city of Mandalay early on Thursday, locals said, in what appeared to be a show of military might.

Richard Weir, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “Myanmar‘s security forces now seem intent on breaking the back of the anti-coup movement through wanton violence and sheer brutality.”

He described how in one particularly shocking incident, a man in custody appeared to have been shot in the back.

The European Union has said the shootings of unarmed civilians and medical workers were clear breaches of international law.

It also said the military was stepping up repression of the media, with a growing number of journalists arrested.

Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party said in a statement that flags would fly at half mast at its offices to commemorate the dead.

Military generals have consistently justified their takeover by claiming its complaints of voter fraud in last November’s election – won by Ms Suu Kyi’s party with a landslide – were ignored.

The election commission has ruled the vote was fair.

Junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has pledged to hold new elections but given no time frame.

Ms Suu Kyi, 75, has been held incommunicado since the coup but appeared at a court hearing via video conferencing this week and looked in good health, a lawyer said.

Military rulers have charged her with allegedly breaching communications laws, inciting public unrest, possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, and violating coronavirus restrictions by staging a campaign event during the election.

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