Doctors protest in Myanmar as crackdown claims more lives

MANDALAY, Myanmar (AP) — Health care workers marched through Myanmar's second-biggest city Sunday as part of a broad civil disobedience movement against last month's coup. While their protest was left alone, security forces used violence elsewhere and shot dead at least one person.

About 100 doctors, nurses, medical students and pharmacists, wearing long white coats, lined up on a main road in Mandalay to chant slogans and voice their opposition to the Feb. 1 coup that toppled the elected civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mandalay has been a major center of opposition to the takeover, and later in the day engineers there held what has been dubbed a “no-human strike,” an increasingly popular tactic that involves lining up signboards in streets or other public areas as proxies for human protesters.

Video recorded in Mandalay showed a motorcyclist apparently being shot off his motorbike by police on an empty street.

As the people who recorded the video shout “He’s been hit! He’s been hit! Go and rescue him!” police quickly appear and swarm around him just after he slumps to the ground. Police led him away on foot while another officer rides off on the motorbike. It isn’t clear how badly he was hurt or what happened to him.

The civil disobedience movement has used widespread boycotts, strikes and other actions with the aim to restore civilian government and return Myanmar to its slow march toward democracy that began nearly a decade ago after a half-century of military rule.

In recent weeks, street protests have faded as a tactic in the face of rising deaths as police and soldiers have shot live fire into crowds and indiscriminately detained people. The independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners had verified 247 deaths nationwide but says the actual total, including cases where verification has been difficult, is probably much higher.

At least one protester was shot dead Sunday in Monywa, another central Myanmar city, according to the online news site Myanmar Now and numerous social media posts.

Myanmar Now, citing a doctor in Monywa, identified the victim as Min Min Zaw, who was shot in the head as he was helping assemble barricades for a protest. Virtually all the dead since the coup have been shot, many of them in the head.

Elsewhere, students, teachers and engineers marched in Dawei, a city in southeastern Myanmar that has become a hotspot for opposition and has seen at least five killings by security forces.

On Sunday, protesters broke into small groups and varied the timings of their marches in an effort to avoid confrontations.

In a more rural outlying area, protesters from several villages in Launglone Township held their protest on motorbikes.

In Yangon’s Thaketa neighborhood, a funeral was held Sunday for 15-year-old high school student Aung Kaung Htet, who was killed a day earlier, Myanmar Now reported.

According to posts on social media, Thaketa was one of several areas where police fired their guns Sunday, the others including Tachileik and Taunnggyi in Shan State in eastern Myanmar, and Gangaw, a town in Magway Division in the west-central part of the country.

The protesters' cause over the weekend received support from demonstrations in several places abroad, including Tokyo, Taipei in Taiwan and on Times Square in New York City.

In addition to deaths since the coup, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has confirmed 2,345 people have been arrested or charged since the coup, with 1,994 still detained or sought for arrest.