Myanmar security forces shot dead nine anti-government protesters on February 1, Friday, said funeral service providers and the media, as Indonesia called for an end to violence and the restoration of democracy, through an unusual phone call from neighbors.
The military and police have resorted to subterfuge to suppress protests by supporters of imprisoned leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but that has not deterred protesters, and crowds have returned to many cities.
Security forces opened fire on each other in the central city of Aungban as they tried to clear a roadblock of protesters, the media and witnesses.
The witness said that the security personnel came to remove the obstructions but people fought and fired.
Aungban’s funeral service official, who declined to be named, told Reuters that eight people had been killed, seven on the spot and one person injured after being rushed to a hospital in the nearby town of Kalaw.
A junta spokesman could not be reached for comment but had previously said security forces should use force if necessary. Critics have ridiculed that explanation.
One of the protesters was killed in the northeastern city of Loikaw, Myanmar Now news agency reported, and a shooting took place in the capital, Yangon, but no injuries were reported.
The protesters were outside the second city of Mandalay, the towns between Myingyan and Katha, and Myawaddy in the east, witnesses and media reports said.
The number of people killed in riotous churches has risen to at least 233, according to a recent report by a number of Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activists.
‘We Are No Longer a Victim’
Western nations have condemned the violence and called for an end to the violence and the release of Suu Kyi. Asian neighbors, led by Indonesia, have promised to help find a solution but the regional conference on March 3 has failed to move forward.
The 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) have been adhering to the principle of non-commentary on each other’s internal affairs, but there are growing signs that the Myanmar crisis is forcing a re-examination.
In one of the strongest comments from the regional leader on the conflict, Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for a return to democracy and an end to violence.
“Indonesia urges that the use of violence in Myanmar be stopped immediately so that there are no more casualties,” Jokowi said, as he is known, at the official address.
“The safety and well-being of the people must be paramount. Indonesia also calls for dialogue, that reconciliation be made expeditiously to restore democracy, restore peace and restore stability.”
Myanmar’s rebel leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, took part in a video conference with security chiefs in the province on Thursday, his first international agreement since taking office, shown on state television.
At the meeting, the Indonesian military chief, Hadi Tjahjanto, expressed concern about the situation in Myanmar, the Indonesian military said on its website. The Indonesian army ruled for years but eventually withdrew from politics.
Singapore also spoke highly of the uprising and killings of protesters and the army chief, Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, said on Facebook he had expressed “his deep concern” at the meeting and urged Myanmar to refrain from deadly forces.
In Geneva, UN human rights experts have condemned the forced evictions, arbitrary arrests and killings of protesters. They said foreign governments should consider pursuing those responsible for human rights abuses.
Tired legislators were considering whether the International Criminal Court could investigate cases of human rights abuses since the uprising, a UN envoy to Myanmar, who spoke at the council, said in New York.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, 75, is being held in an undisclosed location and faces charges of bribery and other charges that could result in her being banned from politics and arrested if convicted. His lawyer said the allegations were fabricated.
The party defended its claim, saying allegations of fraud in the November 8 election by Nuu League for Democracy were rejected by the election commission.
Details in Myanmar are becoming increasingly difficult to verify after authorities blocked online services that protesters use to organize and report.
The UN human rights office said about 37 journalists were arrested this week and two others were detained in the capital, Naypyitaw, on Friday during a hearing on the arrest of a arrested member of Suu Kyi’s party, Mizzima’s website said.
Another journalist arrested was Aung Thura of the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC), it said. The BBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.