Her name was Mya Thwate Thw. She died Friday after being wounded in the head by a shot with live ammunition, according to doctors, during a demonstration ten days ago against the military putsch. The authorities deny any responsibility and claim that only rubber projectiles were used that day by the police.
Mya, icon of resistance
20-year-old Mya has become an icon of resistance to Burmese military power and the first victim of the repression that has swept through the country since the military coup of February 1. His photo is brandished in all demonstrations.
Near the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in downtown Yangon, a funeral wreath has been laid in homage to the young girl. “The bullet that pierced her hit all of our heads”, said one protestor. “You are our martyr”, wrote another, placing a white rose at the foot of his portrait. A funeral service is scheduled to take place on Sunday February 21.
Almost three weeks after the February 1 putsch which overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and put an end to a fragile 10-year democratic transition, the concert of international protests did not sway the generals.
Internet connections were almost cut for the sixth consecutive night, before being restored in the morning. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has been blocked in all languages.
The arrests are continuing with nearly 550 people arrested in less than three weeks (political leaders, striking officials, monks, activists, etc.), according to an NGO providing assistance to political prisoners. Only about 40 of them were released.
The peaceful protest continues
The protests, which have gathered hundreds of thousands of Burmese across the country over the past two weeks, are largely peaceful, but the police have not hesitated to use water cannons, as well as tear gas and rubber bullets.
In Myitkyina, in the north, small groups of protesters were dispersed Friday by police and soldiers armed with batons, according to online videos and witnesses. A teacher, who was there and is now in hiding for fear of being arrested, told AFP that she had seen dozens of arrests. The junta, for its part, reported the death of a police officer earlier this week. The fear of reprisals is very strong in Burma where the last two popular uprisings of 1988 and 2007 were bloodily suppressed by the army.
Despite this, alongside the rallies, calls for civil disobedience continue with doctors, teachers, air traffic controllers and railway workers still on strike. In Monywa (center), a soldier gave a three-fingered salute, in a gesture of resistance, before joining a demonstration, according to images posted on social networks.
Men made him drink and he participated in the rally under the influence of the drink, the state-owned Global New Light Of Myanmar newspaper said, adding that the soldier would be prosecuted. Cooks from Mandalay (center) also responded to calls in their own way, engraving Aung San Suu Kyi’s face on decorative watermelons.
Meeting of European diplomats Monday 22 February
European Union foreign ministers will meet on Monday February 22 to discuss possible measures against the military. However, the NGO Burma Campaign UK estimates that “Sanctioning certain military leaders is symbolically important, but will not have a significant impact”. “They are unlikely to have any assets to freeze in the European Union, and a visa ban is nothing more than a holiday ban”, she added, pleading for coercive measures extended to powerful conglomerates controlled by the military.
To date, the United States, which has condemned “All violence against the people of Burma”, only announced targeted sanctions against certain generals such as the United Kingdom, the former colonial power, and Canada. Beijing and Moscow, traditional allies of the Burmese army at the United Nations, see the crisis as “An internal matter” in the country.