Yangon: Myanmar police fired rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators in Yangon on Saturday after the country’s ambassador to the United Nations broke the ranks and was moved by the military government’s actions.
Since the military coup overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, the country has been shaken by a wave of democratic protests.
The authorities have gradually increased their ability to use force to suppress dissent, using tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse some protests. Real-time tournaments have been used in individual situations.
In Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon 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 were scattered in smaller residential areas and began to build temporary roadblocks with barbed wire and tables to stop the police. Many people wear hard hats and gas masks and brandish homemade shields to protect themselves.
A police officer confirmed that at least 15 people were arrested.
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.