Hundreds mourn Myanmar’s ‘Everything will be OK’ protester

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Naypyidaw

Hundreds of mourners gathered in Myanmar on Thursday for the funeral of a 19-year-old protester shot and killed at a demonstration against military rule.

Angel, also known as Kyal Sin, was shot in the head and killed in the city of Mandalay on Wednesday while wearing a shirt bearing the message “Everything will be OK”.

Mourners, many of them young like her, filed past her open coffin and sang protest songs, raised a three-fingered salute of defiance and chanted slogans against the Feb. 1 military coup that has plunged the country into turmoil.

Angel was one of 38 people killed on Wednesday, according to a United Nations tally. A spokesman for the junta did not respond to a request for comment on the killings.

Sai Tun, 32, who attended the funeral, said he could not come to terms with what had happened to her.

“We feel so angry about their inhuman behaviour and really sad at the same time,” he told Reuters by telephone.

“We’ll fight dictatorship until the end. We must prevail.” Despite the slogan on her shirt, Angel was aware of the risk as she headed out to the protest, posting details of her blood group, a contact number and a request to donate her body in the event of her death.

The phrase on the shirt quickly went viral on social media among opponents of the coup.
More than 50 people have now been killed as the military struggles to impose its authority, in particular on a generation that has grown up in recent years under a government led by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military, which ruled for nearly 50 years until it began stepping back from politics a decade ago, said an election Suu Kyi won in a landslide in November was marred by fraud. The election commission dismissed the complaint of fraud.

In the central town of Monywa, family and friends mourned the death of young poet T Z Win, who was also killed on Wednesday.

The day before he was killed he posted a poem on Facebook with the line: “The louder the song of the youth, The more the whole world will be cleansed”.

Defiant anti-coup protesters returned to cities and towns across Myanmar on Thursday after dozens of people were killed in the deadliest day of the junta’s crackdown, with global powers condemning the “brutal violence”.

At least 38 people died on Wednesday, according to the United Nations, when online images streamed out of Myanmar showing security forces firing into crowds and blood-covered bodies of protesters with bullet wounds in their heads.

Myanmar’s military staged its coup on February 1, ending a decade-long experiment with democracy and triggering a mass uprising that the junta has increasingly sought to quash with lethal force.

Wednesday’s violence left the United States “appalled and revulsed,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“We call on all countries to speak with one voice to condemn the brutal violence by the Burmese military against its own people,” he said, referring to the country by its former name.

French President Emmanuel macron called for an “immediate end of the repression in Myanmar”.

More than 50 people have been killed since the military takeover, UN envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told reporters.

On Thursday, protesters hit the streets again in Yangon and Mandalay, the nation’s two biggest cities, as well as other towns that have been hotspots for unrest.

“It’s dangerous to be here after about 9:30am. They are shooting in the streets,” one food vendor in Yangon said on Thursday morning.

In a district where protests have occurred almost daily in Yangon, the protesters had built barriers with old tires, bricks, sandbags, bamboo and barbed wire. The junta has sought to hide its crackdown from the rest of the world, choking the internet and banning Facebook — the most popular social media platform.

Six journalists were also arrested on the weekend and charged under a law prohibiting “causing fear, spreading false news, or agitating directly or indirectly a government employee”, according to their lawyer Tin Zar Oo.

Among them was Associated Press photographer Thein Zaw, who was arrested Saturday as he covered an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon. Video emerged on Wednesday of him being held in a chokehold by police as he was handcuffed.

However protesters, citizen journalists and some media groups have continued to send images out of Myanmar, and on Thursday the funeral of a 19-year-old woman killed in Mandalay was streamed live on Facebook.

The victim, Ma Kyay Sin, had been wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘Everything will be OK’ in big letters on the front when she was shot in the head.

Security forces have arrested nearly 1,500 people since the start of the coup, with 1,200 of them still in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group.

The group said it had documented more than 50 deaths, as it detailed teenagers and people aged in their 20s who had been shot in the head and chest.

One of the first people detained at the start of the coup was Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the civilian government and a heroine for most people in Myanmar for leading the resistance against the previous dictatorship.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won elections in November last year by a landslide, a result that set the stage for the military’s influence to be potentially diluted.
The junta justified its coup by making unfounded allegations that Suu Kyi’s party rigged the election.

Suu Kyi, 75, is reportedly being detained in Naypyidaw, the isolated capital that the military built during its previous, decades-long dictatorship.—INP