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UN condemns crackdown in Burma after latest protests

Up to 130 injured and 59 killed on Sunday, according to latest Burmese hospital figures
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PHOTO/AFP  -   Protesters carry tyres to build makeshift barricades during demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon on 15 March 2021

Christine Schraner Burgener, the United Nations special envoy to Burma has "strongly" condemned what has been a "continuous bloodshed" for weeks. She criticises that it is taking place "while the military defies international appeals", leading to scenes such as those on Sunday. Burma's hospitals put the death toll at 59 people and the number of wounded at 130 in one of the most violent days in recent weeks in Burma.

Three different hospitals have provided information on the number of victims of the repression carried out by the interim government of Burma. Rangoon General, Hlaing Tharyar and Thingangyun Sanpya are the three centres contacted by the media 'Myanmar Now', which affirm that it is very likely that the number of dead and wounded is higher than what is believed so far. They warn that the situation in the country is beginning to reach a point where hospitals and health centres fear for the number of daily hospitalisations, as well as the increasingly worrying number of deaths in the protests. At least the COVID-19 pandemic is giving the country some respite, with only one death from the virus in the last week. 

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PHOTO/REUTERS - Protesters run past a barricade during an anti-coup protest in Mandalay, Myanmar March 15, 2021

The coup d'état carried out on 1 February in Myanmar ended what had been 10 years of democratic transition, and the security of a large part of a society that had hoped to have put the days of instability behind it. The government of Aung San Suu Kyi - leader of the National League for Democracy - was arrested by the Burmese military after 5 years in power, thanks to the freest and fairest elections the country had seen in the last 25 years, held on 8 November 2015.

Now, a little more than 5 years after those elections, the country is going through one of the most unstable situations of the last decade as a result of the coup d'état. Because of this, the United Nations wanted to take sides and try to help calm a situation that is only worsening. The UN special envoy added that "the ongoing brutality, including against medical personnel and the destruction of public infrastructure, seriously undermines any prospect of peace and stability". She questioned the safety of the Burmese population, and called for help from the international community to address a crisis situation that continues to worsen. The aid must come "in solidarity with the people of Burma and their democratic aspirations" and hopes that the Security Council will take the initiative in the face of escalating violence. 

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AFP/AFP - Map of Yangon showing the townships where the junta imposed martial law late on Sunday

The new government led by interim President Myint Swe has imposed martial law in parts of Rangoon. Already since the last elections in November 2020, there was some mistrust from a section of society due to allegations of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim population in the country, and irregularities in the voter lists of the last general elections. As former General Swe said: "The UEC (election commission) failed to address the huge irregularities in the voter lists in the multi-party general election held on 8 November 2020". Despite this, Burma's former president until her arrest, Suu Kyi, won more than 80 per cent of the vote.