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Violence against protesters intensifies in Myanmar


Anti-coup protesters in Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday Associated Press

Violence against protesters intensifies in Myanmar

Videos showed security forces using slingshots against anti-coup demonstrators and beating an ambulance crew in the city of Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday. The United Nations said at least 38 protesters died across several cities in the country also known as Burma, where the military took over the government on Feb. 1. Security forces already killed at least 18 protesters on Sunday.

What are the details on the crackdown? Local media reported authorities detained about 300 other demonstrators. Some protesters pledged to continue. Authorities on Wednesday charged an Associated Press photojournalist and five other media members for violating a public order law. They could face up to three years in prison if found guilty. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which Myanmar belongs, urged restraint during a Tuesday conference but failed to take any further action.

Dig deeper: Read Angela Lu Fulton’s WORLD Magazine report on the protest movement.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.


Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.

@onize_ohiks

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OldMike

We might start by wondering why any self-respecting cruel military dictatorship would send the troops out to break up demonstrations with slingshots instead of machine guns. 

Big Jim

JimVC- And there's the rub. Do you prefer the electric chair or hanging? Pick your poison.

JimVC

But what if the Usealand military were just as culpable as the civilian government in the persecution of the Pennines?

Big Jim

Interesting illustration, OldMike.

OldMike

We are watching this situation from the other side of the world, so what do we know about what is truly happening in Myanmar?  Let me offer a bit of a speculative scenario:  

Let's say we have been seeing news reports of events in "Usealand."  Several months ago, we first heard there was a lot of unrest, then the press reported the Usealand military took over the nation. The military placed government leaders under arrest and installed their own people in office.  Protests began, with street demonstrations and even destructive rioting.  The military has tried to quell the protests and even resorted to force. Citizens taking part in protests have been killed. Our media has reported these events factually, without expressing support for either side in Usealand, or editorializing on Usealand politics. 
 

From our own biases and preconceptions in the USA, we generally have viewed the Usealand military as a bunch of dictators who have wrested control from a democratic government, and to us, the protestors are righteously trying to force the military to restore democracy.

But eventually we hear a different story. The previous government, generally viewed by those outside Usealand as a democratically-elected, just government, actually had a dark side. They had been brutally suppressing the Pennines, a minority religious group of about 10% of the Usealand people, with secret arrests and destruction of their places of worship, homes, and even entire villages. Since few of the Pennines lived in urban areas, the national and world media had reported very little on this. Further, it came out that the arrested Pennines were simply being killed at secret locations.  The government plan had actually been a secret genocide of the Pennines. 

But the military intervened and arrested the civilian government leaders.  The protestors who appeared on the streets were not representative of the majority of Usealand's citizens, but were actually mostly street gangs and criminals who had benefited from the arrests of the Pennines. 

The actual situation in Usealand turned out to be the exact opposite of what we believed it to be. 
 

I am ABSOLUTELY NOT alleging that what happened in my fictional scenario of Usealand is the true picture of what is happening in Myanmar. All I am pointing out is that we do not know based on the limited information we have received.