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Day after lethal crackdown, junta declares martial law in six towns

State broadcaster MRTV said on Monday that the Yangon townships of North Dagon, South Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and North Okkalapa have been put under martial law

Anti-coup protesters display signs and shout slogans as they protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Monday. Pic/AP/PTI

Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in six townships in the country’s largest city, as security forces killed dozens of protesters over the weekend in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup.

State broadcaster MRTV said on Monday that the Yangon townships of North Dagon, South Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and North Okkalapa have been put under martial law. An initial announcement was made late on Sunday saying two other townships – Hlaing Thar Yar and neighbouring Shwepyitha – were being placed under martial law.

At least 38 people were killed on Sunday and dozens were injured in one of the deadliest days of the crackdown on anti-coup protesters, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, or AAPP, an independent group tracking the toll of the violence. Several estimates from other sources gave higher figures.

Complicating efforts to organise new protests as well as media coverage of the crisis, mobile internet service has been cut, though access is still available through fixed broadband connections. Mobile data service has been used to stream live video coverage of protests, often showing security forces attacking demonstrators. It had been turned off only from 1 am to 9 am for several weeks, with no official explanation. 

The blockage of internet service forced postponement of a court hearing in the capital, Natpyitaw, for Myanmar’s detained leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was supposed to take part via a video conference, said her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw. Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained during the February 1 military takeover, and have been charged with several criminal offences that their supporters believe are politically motivated.

Chinese properties face violence

Violence by pro-democracy protesters against Chinese properties are mounting in Myanmar and security forces are opening indiscriminate fire to check the attacks. At least 38 protesters were killed on Sunday after two Chinese-financed factories were set on fire. The Facebook page of the Chinese embassy in Myanmar has been bombarded with a stream of vitriol blaming the February 1 coup on “Chinese backing and encouragement”.

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