Protesters marched in Myanmar on Monday in defiance of a crackdown by security forces that killed at least 18 people a day earlier, as calls grew for a more united international response after the worst violence since a coup one month ago.
Clashes took place in various parts of the country on Sunday and police opened fire on crowds in the biggest city of Yangon, after tear gas and warning shots failed to clear protesters demanding the restoration of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.
Police with water cannon and military vehicles were mobilised at protest hotspots in Yangon on Monday, while demonstrators marched in Kale, in northwest Myanmar, holding up pictures of Suu Kyi and chanting “democracy, our cause, our cause”.
Live video on Facebook showed a small crowd in hard hats gathered across a street in Lashio, Shan State, chanting slogans as police marched towards them.
“It has been one month since the coup. They cracked down on us with shootings yesterday. We will come out today again,” prominent protest leader Ei Thinzar Maung posted on Facebook.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the army seized power and detained elected leader Suu Kyi and much of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party leadership on Feb. 1, alleging fraud in a November election her party won in a landslide.
Having not been seen in public since her detention, Suu Kyi has a court hearing scheduled for Monday. She has been charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and of violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols.
The coup, which brought a halt to tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule, has drawn hundreds of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets and the condemnation of Western countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned what he called “abhorrent violence” by security forces, while Canada’s foreign minister, Marc Garneau, said the military’s use of lethal force against its own people was “appalling”. Both called for a united response.
Tom Andrews, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar said it was clear the junta’s assault would continue so the international community should ratchet up its response.
He proposed a global arms embargo, more sanctions from more countries on those behind the coup, sanctions on the military’s businesses and a U.N Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court.
“Words of condemnation are welcome but insufficient. We must act,” Andrews said in a statement.
“The nightmare in Myanmar that is unfolding before our eyes will get worse. The world must act.”
People marked the deaths of demonstrators with red and white roses, circling with yellow, white and pink flowers the spot in front of a school where one protester was killed.
Small memorials were held for the victims, with candles lit in front of homes late on Sunday.