Myanmar protests: 38 dead in bloodiest day demonstrations after military coup

  • Video report by ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

In the bloodiest day of protests since the Myanmar military coup, security forces were seen firing slingshots at protesters, chasing them down and even beating an ambulance crew.

38 more people died in the violence on Wednesday, taking the death toll since the coup started to 50, a United Nations (UN) official said.

Demonstrators have been taking to the streets since the country's military seized power ousting the elected government of leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The coup reversed years of progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule.

Security forces have repeatedly fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds to disperse the crowds, and arrested protesters.

Anti-coup protesters run as one of them discharges a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas fired by riot policemen in Yangon Credit: AP

UN special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, told reporters at UN headquarters in Switzerland: “Today it was the bloodiest day since the coup happened on Feb. 1. We have today - only today - 38 people died. We have now more than over 50 people died since the coup started.”

More have been wounded.

The Democratic Voice of Burma, an independent television and online news service, also reported 38 deaths on Wednesday. A toll of at least 34 was compiled by a data analyst in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city.

The data analyst, who is anonymous because of fears for his safety, also collected information on victims’ names, ages, hometowns, and where and how they were killed.

Policemen and soldiers armed with guns and sling-shots advance towards anti-coup protesters in Mandalay Credit: AP

There have been reports of other violence. In Yangon, a video showed police kicking the three ambulance crew members and thrashing them with rifle butts. Security forces are believed to be targeting medical workers because members of the medical profession helped launch the protests.

In Mandalay, riot police and soldiers, broke up a rally and chased 1,000 teachers and students from a street with tear gas as gun shots could be heard.

Security forces have also arrested journalists. On Saturday, at least eight journalists were arrested.

Anti-coup school teachers in their uniform and traditional Myanmar-hats participate in a demonstration in Mandalay Credit: AP

Video showed Thein Zaw of The Associated Press seized by police officers, who handcuffed him and held him in a chokehold. He has been charged with violating a public safety law that could see him imprisoned for up to three years.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold a closed meeting on Friday. The United Kingdom requested the meeting, they said. But any kind of coordinated action by the UN will be difficult since two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, would likely veto it.