According to domestic media reports, at least two people were killed in an overnight shooting by Burmese police. Activists called for more anti-coup protests on the anniversary of the death of a student who was killed in 1988, sparking an uprising against the government.
Saturday’s calls for protests came as the leaders of the United States, India, Australia and Japan vowed to work together to restore democracy in Myanmar where violence has escalated as authorities crack down on protests and civil disobedience.
Domestic media reported two protesters were killed in police firing in the Tharketa district of Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon overnight. DVB News said police opened fire on a crowd that gathered outside the Tharketa police station demanding the release of people arrested.
Posters spread on social media calling on people to come out on the streets to protest against the junta and to mark the death anniversary of Phone Maw, who was shot and killed by security forces in 1988 inside what was then known as the Rangoon Institute of Technology campus.
His shooting and the shooting of another student who died a few weeks later triggered widespread protests against the military government. This protest was called the 8-8-88 Movement because it peaked in August of that year. When the army suppressed the uprising, an estimated 3,000 people were killed.
Aung San Suu Kyi became a symbol of democracy in the movement and was placed under house arrest for nearly two decades. She was released in 2008 as the military began democratic reforms in November and her National League for Democracy won the general election in 2015, again last year.
On February 1 this year, the general overthrew her government and detained Suu Kyi and many of her cabinet colleagues, claiming fraud in the November election.
Since then, more than 70 people have been killed in widespread protests in Southeast Asian countries, the American Association for Political Prisoners Aid (AAPP) advocacy group said.
The coup in Myanmar, where the military has close ties to China, is a major early test for new U.S. President Joe Biden.
His administration flagged a virtual meeting with the Indian, Japanese and Australian leaders on Friday, the first official summit of a group known as the Quad, as part of a push to demonstrate a renewed U.S. commitment to regional security.
“As long-standing supporters of Myanmar and its people, we emphasise the urgent need to restore democracy and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience,” the four leaders said in a statement released by the White House.
A spokesman for the junta did not answer phone calls from Reuters seeking comment.