More than 1,000 civilians killed since the military coup in Burma

Since the army ousted Aung San Suu Kyi from power just over six months ago, Burmese security forces have killed more than 1,000 civilians, a rights watchdog NGO said on Wednesday.

The military seized power on February 1, unleashing a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests and wrecking the economy. In particular, the security forces used live ammunition against civilians.

Despite this violence, anti-junta mobs, some of which have formed self-defense groups, continue to take to the streets daily in lightning demonstrations. According to the NGO Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP), which verifies the deaths and mass arrests committed by the regime, the number of people killed by the security forces reached 1,001 on Wednesday. But the actual number is likely much higher, said Ko Bo Gyi, co-director of the AAPP.

“As long as the military is in power, they will continue to kill young people, professionals like doctors and teachers, men, women and children,” he said. “They not only destroy our lives, but also the future of the country and its democratic hopes.” Ko Bo Gyi, who lives in hiding and whose group has been declared illegal by the board, also accused the authorities of “militarizing” the Covid, as the country is going through a strong wave of contamination. To date, Burma has recorded more than 360,000 cases and 13,623 deaths from the virus.

The health crisis has been compounded by the weakness of the health system, with many hospitals being depleted of their staff to participate in a civil disobedience movement. Patients are also reluctant to go to hospitals run by the military, leading to long lines for oxygen and medical supplies at pharmacies in Yangon, the country’s largest city. The junta justified its seizure of power as a means of protecting democracy, claiming electoral fraud in the November legislative elections, won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.

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Authorities say the number of civilian casualties is much lower and also said in June that more than 90 members of the security forces had been killed in clashes. The 76-year-old former de facto head of government begins her seventh month under house arrest. Accused of a multitude of crimes (illegal importation of walkie-talkies, failure to comply with the restrictions linked to the coronavirus epidemic, corruption, sedition, etc.), she runs the risk of long years in prison. The chief of the army, Min Aung Hlaing, has been appointed prime minister of an “interim” government, which the board has called the “state administration council”.

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