Myanmar coup: Woman shot during anti-coup protests dies

A 20-year-old woman has become the first protester to die in the anti-coup demonstrations in Myanmar after she was shot in the head.

Flowers lay over the image of Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing
image captionMya Thwe Thwe Khaing had just turned 20

Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing was injured last week when police tried to disperse protesters using water cannon, rubber bullets and live rounds. 

Her wound was consistent with one from live ammunition, rights groups said.

Myanmar has seen days of protests following a coup which overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government.

The hospital in the capital Nay Pyi Taw confirmed her death at 11:00 local time (04:30 GMT). A funeral service will be held on Sunday, her family said.

“We will look for justice and move forward,” a doctor told AFP news agency, adding that staff had faced immense pressure since she was taken to their intensive care unit. 

Authorities said they would investigate the case.

Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing, who turned 20 after she was shot, had been on life support since she was taken to hospital on 9 February.

She had taken part in a protest in the south-east Asian nation which saw police use water cannon against protesters who refused to retreat. 

According to BBC Burmese, who spoke to an unnamed medical officer shortly after she was brought to the hospital, she suffered a serious head injury. 

Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing’s family are all supporters of Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Her brother said she voted for the first time in last November’s general election, which the NLD won by a landslide. 

“I want to encourage all the citizens to join the protests until we can get rid of this system,” her sister, Mya Tha Toe Nwe, told reporters shortly after the death was announced on Friday. “That’s all I want to say.”

Why are people protesting in Myanmar?

Myanmar is in a year-long state of emergency after the military seized power. They claim the November election results were fraudulent but have not provided any evidence of that, and demand a rerun of the vote.

Power has been handed to Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing. Ms Suu Kyi is under house arrest, accused of possessing illegal walkie-talkies and violating the country’s Natural Disaster Law.

Protesters are calling for her release, along with the release of other NLD members. The country is now seeing some of the largest demonstrations since the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007.

Clashes have taken place between security officers and protesters, and the military has also blocked the internet in a bid to stifle dissent.

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Myanmar – the basics

  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, was long considered a pariah state while under the rule of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011
  • A gradual liberalisation began in 2010, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
  • In 2017, Myanmar’s army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”
  • Aung San Suu Kyi and her government were overthrown in an army coup on 1 February
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What’s the latest on the ground?

Thousands of people gathered in the largest city, Yangon, on Friday for further demonstrations. Many wore uniforms to demonstrate that they were boycotting work.

“Don’t go to the office!” they chanted, according to AFP. “Go strike! Go strike!”

The mass protest marked two straight weeks of unrest in the country, but police have ramped up efforts to block the demonstrations.

Officers sealed off Yangon’s main protest site on Friday, and set-up barricades at an intersection where a major protest was held the previous day.

But hundreds of people gathered at the barricades anyway, a witness told Reuters.

Elsewhere, video footage posted on social media showed clashes between police and protesters in Myitkyina in northern Kachin state.

Map with Mandalay

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