Kalpana Rao/IRIN A banner calls for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi’s brother, Aung Kyi, in Yangon
The United Nations and the United States have both criticised the Myanmar military’s behaviour after a day of protests at Yangon University that turned deadly and deadly.
After many protests on Saturday for Aung San Suu Kyi’s brother, Kyi Win, who is detained by Myanmar’s military, a larger crowd gathered early Sunday to voice their dissatisfaction with the military for the killing of their classmate, 25-year-old Soe Nyunt, a Rohingya refugee living in Bangladesh.
“You know the military,” a student said to the BBC after the crowd demanded Soe Nyunt’s release. “We protest for the past three years but they were even nicer than this time.”
According to UNICEF, Suu Kyi Win’s father was a student leader before he was shot dead by Myanmar’s military in 1983.
Dozens of protesters have been arrested since the Sunday protests, according to reports on social media and the website Violations.
Reuters reported that a protester died of a heart attack and at least 50 other protesters were detained, the Red Cross said on Twitter.
Riot police have been deployed around the university as protesters hurled rocks, knives and petrol bombs at police. One protester was reportedly arrested for hitting a police officer, while other reports said another was carrying an iron bar. Police said they had used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the crowd.
According to Reuters, a large group of police and student protesters clashed near the campus with helmeted police detaining protesters. Demonstrators and police traded rocks and bottles as tear gas canisters flew overhead, Reuters reported.
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The United States also condemned the violence against demonstrators, while France condemned the military’s actions.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned the military’s use of “repressive” force in the area.
Myanmar’s military spokesman did not respond to media requests for comment.
UN says killings must stop
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Lanfe Weatherill, described what took place on Sunday as “extrajudicial killings” and called for a halt to the military’s actions and the use of violence against civilians.
“The Myanmar military must cease further attacks against civilians and allow unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need,” she said.
“I condemn the use of disproportionate force and excessive force by the Myanmar security forces and urge full respect for the rule of law,” said Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Myanmar.
The events come after years of sexual violence against Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar military. At least 6,700 Rohingya have been killed and tens of thousands of Rohingya villages burnt in a crackdown since August.