Myanmar Police Open Fire on Protesters

Myanmar’s security forces fired on protesters Sunday in the deadliest day of demonstrations since the military took control of the country on Feb. 1. At least 18 people were killed, according to the United Nations. Photo: Associated Press

Video Transcript

FELIZ SOLOMON: The crackdown began early in the day as police fired tear gas and other deterrents into crowds in several cities. Things escalated quickly with reports of live fire. Sunday was the bloodiest day since Myanmar's military overthrew the elected government in a coup on February 1.

At least 18 people were killed across the country, according to the United Nations. The protests have been ongoing since a few days after the coup, but what happened on Sunday was a sign that the military is willing to escalate its use of force against the demonstrators. The protests began on February 6, just a few days after the military detained civilian leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in a morning raid and declared a one year state of emergency.

The military claimed that there was voter fraud during an election in November that was won by Ms. Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party. Election authorities said that there was no evidence of fraud, and election monitors roundly agreed that the vote was credible. The increased use of force is very alarming. The Myanmar military has a gruesome record of violence against pro-democracy protesters and has now shown that it's willing to use deadly force once again.

RAVINA SHAMDASANI: We are calling on the military to stop the use of force against peaceful protesters.

FELIZ SOLOMON: The international community, particularly, Western democracies, have voiced condemnation of the coup.

JOE BIDEN: A series of actions that we're taking to begin imposing consequences on the leaders of the coup.

FELIZ SOLOMON: The US has already imposed some sanctions against military leaders and their businesses. And after Sunday's violence, the White House said it's preparing further action. Despite the violence on Sunday, protesters returned to the streets on Monday, where they faced tear gas.

The protests are getting bigger, and no resolution is on the horizon. Based on the conversations I've had with protesters so far, they're more saddened than angered by the violence, and they're not willing to use violence themselves. Nonetheless, this shows that the military is willing to use deadly force against these protesters, and the protesters have shown that they are not afraid to confront the security forces.