Police in Myanmar fired tear gas and rubber bullets to scatter protesters gathered to oppose a military coup in the fourth weekend of demonstrations.
Terrified pro-democracy activists were seen sprinting away from riot police as gas canisters fizzed around them and rubber bullet flew through the streets of Rangoon on Saturday.
Myanmar has been shaken by a wave of violence since the military junta ousted the country’s Oxford-educated leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.
Riot police have gradually ramped up their use of force to suppress dissent, including ferocious beatings with batons and water cannon to knock protesters to the floor.
Live rounds have also been deployed, including last weekend when a 19-year-old woman was shot in the head after travelling to the capital from her village.
An ambulance stands by on the streets of Rangoon this morning as terrified protesters sprint away from tear gas fired at them by riot police
A demonstrator in handcuffs is led away by riot police in the Myanmar capital on Saturday as the country entered its fourth weekend of protests
A woman runs away as a heavy in the background aims a firearm at the crowd. Myanmar has been shaken by a wave of violence since the military junta ousted the country’s Oxford-educated leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.
Protesters break ranks as riot police move in with force on Saturday. Riot police have gradually ramped up their use of force to suppress dissent, including ferocious beatings with batons and water cannon to knock protesters to the floor.
Protesters set up a barricade with wood pallets and dust bins but were driven back by riot police firing rubber bullets and tear gas
Demonstrators are seen setting up a barricade today shortly before they were driven back
In Myanmar’s biggest city Rangoon on Saturday, police used rubber bullets to disperse a demonstration at Myaynigone junction, the site of an hours-long standoff the day before.
‘What are the police doing? They are protecting a crazy dictator,’ the protesters chanted as they were chased away by the police.
Hundreds of ethnic Mon protesters had gathered there to commemorate Mon National Day, joined by other ethnic minority groups to protest against the coup.
They scattered into smaller residential streets and started building makeshift barricades out of barbed wire and tables to stop the police. Many wore hard hats and gas masks, wielding homemade shields for protection.
At least 15 people were arrested, a police official confirmed.
Local reporters broadcast the chaotic scenes live on Facebook, including the moments when the shots rang out, which AFP reporters on the ground also witnessed.
‘We will try to find another way to protest – of course, we are afraid of their crackdown,’ said protester Moe Moe, 23, who used a pseudonym.
‘We want to fight until we win.’
Three journalists were among those detained – an Associated Press photographer, a video journalist from Myanmar Now, and a photographer from the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency.
The crackdown in Yangon came after Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations broke ranks and made an emotional plea Friday to the international community.
‘We need… the strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people, and to restore the democracy,’ Kyaw Moe Tun pleaded, his voice cracking with emotion.
Briefly speaking in Burmese, he pleaded with his ‘brothers and sisters’ to keep fighting to end military rule.
A bank of riot police stand ready to meet the protesters with their shields as one of their number launches tear gas grenades at the crowd
A demonstrator places his bicycle in front of riot police during a protest against the military coup
Police charge to disperse protesters taking part in a demonstration against the military coup in Rangoon
2 Barricades made by demonstrators are seen engulfed in tear gas fired by riot police during a protest against the military coup at Sanchaung township in the capital
‘This revolution must win,’ he said, flashing at the end the three-finger salute that has become a symbol of resistance against the junta.
His pro-democracy appeal broke from the current rulers of Myanmar – an extremely rare occurrence for a UN representative – and was met with applause in the chamber.
The junta has repeatedly justified its seizure of power by alleging widespread electoral fraud in the November elections, which Suu Kyi’s party had won in a landslide, and promised fresh polls in a year.
Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing now holds legislative, executive and judicial powers in Myanmar – effectively halting the country’s 10-year experiment with democracy.
A protester holds his head in his hands as tear gas fills the air for the fourth weekend in a row in Myanmar
Police form up at a junction as protesters demonstrate against the military coup in Dawei, Myanmar
A demonstrator is led away by three riot police on Saturday as officers broke up the demonstrations in Rangoon
Arrests are made in Rangoon today as riot police bundle demonstrators into the back of waiting vans as they disperse the crowds
Protesters carrying flags demonstrate against the military coup in Rangoon, Myanmar
People run as police in riot gear disperse protesters demonstrating against the military coup in Rangoon
Suu Kyi, who has not been publicly seen since she was detained, is now facing two charges for having unregistered walkie-talkies in her residence and breaking coronavirus rules.
While the Nobel laureate is expected to have a hearing on Monday, her lawyer has still not been able to make contact with her.
More than 770 people have been arrested, charged and sentenced since the February 1 putsch, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group, with some 680 still behind bars.
But protests have continued apace across Myanmar, from the remote mountain ranges of northern Chin state to the southern coastal city Dawei.