Myanmar security forces raided the headquarters of deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party on Tuesday, a party official said, as nationwide demonstrations against the military takeover turned bloody when police fired on a large crowd in the capital, wounding two protesters.
In a nighttime raid as anti-coup protests in Myanmar’s major cities entered their second week, military and police broke into the National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarters in Yangon and a nearby regional office, said Kyaw Wunna, a member of the NLD’s research team.
“Tonight around 9 p.m., a staffer who was monitoring the security cameras informed us that the police and soldiers got into our headquarters office and the regional office at the same time,” he told RFA. He said office CCTV footage showed police and army troops blocking surrounding streets as they broke in.
“Even if they wanted to search our offices, they could have done it during daytime when officials are present,” said Kyaw Wunna. “They are committing one lawless act after another.”
Earlier on Tuesday, protesters demanding the reinstatement of deposed Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government defied a curfew and assembly ban imposed Monday and turned out for the fourth day of demonstrations following a mass protest rallies across the nation of 54 million people over the weekend.
Police used water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets to disperse the tens of thousands of mostly peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyidaw and Mandalay, the second largest city, injuring at least five demonstrators in the capital, sources said. Protesters responded by throwing rocks and other projectiles.
In Naypyidaw, a 20-year-old female protester was shot in the head and another person was hit in the chest after police fired about 60 shots into a crowd of demonstrators during a tussle over a police officer who had joined the protests, said a protester who heard the shots.
The woman, Mya Thwait Thwait Khine, “is now being treated in the special intensive care unit,” said a doctor at a 1,000-bed hospital in the capital who declined to be identified for security reasons.
“The injury is life-threatening. Her brain is not functioning due to the bullet wound,” he said, adding that the bullet was lodged in her head and that it would be extremely difficult to remove.
“Our medical analysis of the wound indicates that the shot was fired from very far away, but penetrated through her [motorbike] helmet and skull, so we believe it was a real bullet,” the doctor said. “Rubber bullets cannot inflict this kind of injury. The head CT scan also indicated that the bullet lodged in the brain was metal and not rubber.”
Naypyidaw’s military hospital earlier pressured the civilian hospital to transfer the injured protesters, but staff declined, he said.
First known bloodshed
Tuesday’s shooting, the first known bloodshed since the military takeover, followed a confrontation at a rally of as many as 100,000 protesters, including students and government workers, at the Thabyegon roundabout in Naypyidaw, where a young police officer climbed onto a building and called on fellow officers and all other government employees to join the civil disobedience movement.
“I want my fellow police officers to abandon their fears and stand by the side of the people,” the officer said. “They cannot use violence against us.”
“It is also important to get the support of the judicial sector and the General Administration Department,” he said. “Without them, our fight for democracy cannot be successful. We need to carry on these protests day after day until power is handed back to the people. The administrative machinery must come to a stop.”
Three police officers in Magway and one in Tanintharyi region joined protests there, with the latter officer arrested, sources said.
After a week of silence following the Feb. 1 putsch during which Aung San Suu Kyi and scores of officials were arrested, the junta on Monday issued curfew decrees, and coup leaders, Senior General Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing appeared on state television to repeat the election fraud claims the army has used to justify the military takeover.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a watchdog group, said that as of Monday, 170 people had been detained in relation to the military coup, with only 18 released. Most are politicians, it said.
Reported by Nayrein Kyaw and RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun and Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.