Photos show escalating anti-coup protests in Myanmar, as demonstrations turn deadly

Erin Snodgrass
·5 min read
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Anti-coup protesters run away from tear gas launched by security forces in Yangon, Myanmar, Monday, March 1, 2021. AP Photo
  • Protests in Myanmar over last month's military coup turned deadly this weekend.

  • The government's security forces escalated the violence, leaving at least 18 dead and 30 wounded.

  • Despite the fatalities, protesters returned to the streets Monday, demanding a return to democracy.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Ongoing protests across Myanmar over February's military coup turned deadly this weekend as the government's crackdown on anti-coup demonstrators left at least 18 people dead and 30 wounded.

According to the Associated Press, the United Nations Human Rights Office said it had received "credible information" that Sunday's security crackdown resulted in at least 18 deaths. The outlet also reported that other sources, such as local and independent news outlets in the country, estimated the death toll was in the 20s.

Either way, it would be the highest single-day death count since the protests began on February 1. Demonstrators first hit the streets at the start of the month, after Myanmar's military announced it would be taking over the country for at least a year, citing unfounded claims of voter fraud as justification for the coup.

The coup has undone years of efforts toward democratizing the once-dictatorship. Protestors are demanding that the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi be returned to power after the military ousted the democratically-elected administration that was set to begin its new term on February 1.

Suu Kyi faces several charges, an apparent effort by the military to legitimize the leader's detainment and bar her from running in the election that the junta has promised to hold in a year, according to the AP.

Protests have been escalating across the country and the region for a month, but Sunday saw a new level of violence wielded against protesters, as security forces made mass arrests and used lethal force in an attempt to break up the protests.

Much of the violence was centralized in the country's largest city, Yangon, where soldiers and police used stun grenades, tear gas, and guns against protesters, according to NBC News.

Confirming the number of deaths across the country has been challenging, especially in smaller cities and more rural areas, but many protesters took to social media over the weekend, sharing videos and photos of shootings and bodies.

In a Monday statement in the Global New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper, the country's Foreign Ministry said the government "is exercising utmost restraint to avoid the use of force in managing the violent protests systemically, in accordance with domestic and international laws in order to keep minimum casualties," the AP reported.

Despite the fatalities, protesters returned to the streets Monday as security forces continued to fire tear gas and chase demonstrators, though the New York Times reported that Monday's violence was on a lesser level than Sunday's.

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, 1,213 people have been arrested, charged, or sentenced in Myanmar since February 1. The group also estimates that approximately 30 people have been killed since the coup.

Government security forces used tear gas to break up protests in Yangon.

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Anti-coup protesters run away from tear gas launched by security forces in Yangon, Myanmar, Monday, March 1, 2021. AP Photo

Riot police also deployed sound hand grenades during the crackdown on protesters.

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A riot policeman throws a sound hand grenade towards protesters during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar on March 1, 2021. Photo by Myat Thu Kyaw/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Protesters prepared for incoming tear gas by wetting clothes to throw on canisters.

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Anti military coup protesters about to use wet clothes to throw on tear gas canisters during a demonstration against the military coup. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Anti-coup demonstrators helped each other after police deployed tear gas.

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Anti-coup protesters help each other after being exposed to tear gas fired by riot police on March 01, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Hkun Lat/Getty Images

Some helped their fellow protesters who were wounded.

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A protester wounded during a protest against a military coup is carried by his colleague in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. AP Photo

Family members mourned those who were killed during the protests

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Family members and relatives pray next to the body of the Muslim woman who her family said was killed by the army Sunday, during her funeral service in Mandalay, Myanmar, Monday, March 1, 2021. AP Photo

Demonstrators created makeshift altars for those killed

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Protesters arrange abandoned flip flops and other belongings next to a makeshift altar for teacher Tin Nwe Yi left behind during a crackdown in Yangon on March 1, 2021 after she was killed during a demonstration against the military coup. Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

Buddhist monks joined the anti-coup protests in Mandalay.

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Buddhist monks displaying signs and flashing three-finger salutes lead an anti-coup protest march in Mandalay, Myanmar, Monday, March 1, 2021. AP Photo

Despite the weekend's fatalities, protesters returned to the streets Monday.

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Protesters stand behind makeshift shields during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar on March 1, 2021. Photo by Myat Thu Kyaw/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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