Myanmar death toll rises as military pushes for calm Armed Forces Day

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Protesters clash with security forces during a protest against the military coup and the detention of civilian leaders in Myanmar. Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire/dpa
Protesters clash with security forces during a protest against the military coup and the detention of civilian leaders in Myanmar. Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire/dpa

dpa/GNA – Tensions could be spiking in Myanmar ahead of Saturday, when the military hopes for a protest-free day so it can mark Armed Forces Day, despite nearly two months of non-stop and increasingly deadly protests since last month’s coup.

“As the illegitimate military regime attempts to halt protests before Armed Forces Day on March 27, many soldiers and so-called police commit brutal acts,” the Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said in a Friday statement.

The group noted 11 new deaths amid the protests on Thursday, bringing the total death count since February 1 to 320.

Despite the growing death toll, thousands of Myanmar residents are participating in regular protests, demanding that the government headed by Aung Sang Suu Kyi be returned to power.

The army has had her under house arrest since February 1. She is accused of a variety of crimes. Additionally, the army has alleged tampering in the November vote that saw her National League for Democracy return to power, but has provided no proof.

But the ongoing protests show that a sizeable portion of the populace are not on board with the military’s version of the story.

In Yangon, a dpa reporter saw about 70 people protest near a group of troops near a pagoda until it became clear they were going to be driven away.

“We show up here as we want the military to know that our activities to fight against the junta will never stop for justice. All the people across the country reject the military coup and there will be more protests in Yangon too,” said one protester, who identified himself as Tun Tun.

Another protester who asked not to be named said the demonstrators are in for the long haul.

“This war has not ended until we win. I will fight them as much as we can.

“We will definitely win at the end of the fighting as we will never ever stop our will to get freedom and justice.”

There were also reports of candlelight protests Thursday across the country, according to local media.

The AAPP counted four people shot dead during protests in Taunggyi, in the country’s central Shan state. The group noted that armed forces had turned residential areas into combat zones, pushing into homes and arresting people.

The group said about 3,000 people have been detained since the start of the unrest.

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