After Chinese-funded factories were set on fire, Myanmar security forces killed at least 38 people on Sunday, one of the deadliest days since the military seized power in a coup, and proclaimed martial law in six regions.
According to the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the heaviest casualties occurred in an industrial suburb of Yangon, where military and police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, killing at least 22, and the Hlaingthaya district “became like a battlefield.”
A protester can be seen huddling under a makeshift shield while holding onto the shirt of a fallen fellow demonstrator in one unverified picture. A protester can be seen huddling under a makeshift shield while holding onto the shirt of a fallen fellow demonstrator in one unverified picture.
At least 16 people were killed in other parts of the country on Sunday, including Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, and Bago, where state media confirmed that a police officer died of a chest wound after a clash with protesters, according to Reuters. This is the second police officer who has died as a result of the demonstrations.
According to the AAPP, the weekend’s deaths increase the total number of people killed since the coup to at least 126. Several Chinese-funded factories were smashed and set ablaze during protests in Yangon’s industrial zone on Sunday, according to the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar. According to the embassy, Chinese people were also wounded.
The perpetrators are unknown, and no organization has taken responsibility for the fires.
“China urges Myanmar to take further effective measures to stop all acts of violence, punish the perpetrators in accordance with the law and ensure the safety of life and property of Chinese companies and personnel in Myanmar,” the embassy statement said, according to CGTN.
Anti-coup protesters have been wary of China, with protesters often targeting the Chinese embassy in Yangon and accusing Beijing of supporting the coup and junta.
Though China has not explicitly denounced the military takeover, it has backed a UN Security Council statement condemning “violence against peaceful protestors” and urging the military to “exercise utmost restraint.”
China issued a statement on Sunday urging Myanmarese protestors to express their demands legally and not to jeopardize bilateral relations.
According to state-run news channel MRTV, the military junta imposed martial law in Hlaingthaya, one of the city’s largest districts and home to many struggling factory workers, following the bloodshed. Martial law has also been proclaimed in Yangon’s Shwepyithar district, according to local media. The military proclaimed martial law in four more Yangon townships on Monday: North Dagon, North Okkalapa, South Dagon, and Dagon Seikkan, which are home to the majority of the city’s factories.
In districts where martial law is proclaimed, the military chief of the Yangon region is given “absolute administrative and judicial authority,” according to the junta’s regime. According to local news outlet Myanmar Now, martial law under the junta’s regime gives the military commander of the Yangon region “full administrative and judicial authority” in districts where martial law is declared.
According to internet monitoring service NetBlocks, despite the restoration of internet connectivity on Monday following a shutdown for the 29th consecutive night, mobile networks remained “disabled nationwide.” Mobile phones have been used by protesters and journalists to live stream protests and record police crackdowns.