Police in Myanmar on Friday opened fired on protesters against last month’s military coup, killing one man, as international condemnation rained down on the junta, with the U.N. Security Council set to discuss the crisis.
The violence came as the junta lost a tug of war over leadership of its U.N. mission in New York and the United States unveiled new sanctions targeting military conglomerates after the deaths of dozens of civilian protesters.
Activists demanding the restoration of the elected government of veteran democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi held more demonstrations in several towns and cities on Friday, with a crowd of thousands marching peacefully through the second city of Mandalay.
“The stone age is over, we’re not scared because you threaten us,” the crowd chanted.
Later, police opened fire to break up the crowd, and one man was hit in the throat, witnesses said.
“I think he’s around 25 but we’re still waiting for family members,” a doctor who had examined the victim told Reuters by telephone.
In the main city of Yangon, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters who had been joined by about 100 doctors in white coats, witnesses said.
A crowd also gathered in the town of Pathein, to the west of Yangon, a witness said.
On Thursday, police broke up rallies with tear gas and gunfire in several cities but their crackdown was more restrained than on Wednesday, when the United Nations said 38 people were killed in the bloodiest day of protests.
U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet demanded the security forces halt what she called their “vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters.” Bachelet said more than 1,700 people had been arrested, including 29 journalists.
Singapore has been the most outspoken of Myanmar’s neighbours and its foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, said it was a “national shame” for armed forces to use weapons against their people.
He called on the military to seek a peaceful solution but acknowledged external pressure would have only a limited impact on the situation.
A spokesman for the ruling military council did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.
Adding to a sense of unease, electricity supplies were cut in many parts of the country on Friday. A utility official later said it was due to a system failure. (Reuters)