Myanmar junta kills more protesters, adds Suu Kyi accusation

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Anti-coup protesters retreat from the frontlines after riot policemen fire sound-bombs and rubber bullets in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, March 11, 2021. (AP Photo)

MANDALAY – Myanmar's security forces shot to death at least 10 people protesting the military's coup Thursday, spurning a U.N. Security Council appeal to stop using lethal force and as an independent U.N. expert cited growing evidence of crimes against humanity.

The military also lodged a new allegation against the deposed government leader Aung San Suu Kyi, alleging that in 2017-18 she was illegally given $600,000 and gold bars worth slightly less by a political ally. She and President Win Myint have been detained on less serious allegations and the new accusation was clearly aimed at discrediting Suu Kyi and perhaps charging her with a serious crime.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun said at a news conference in the capital that former Yangon Division Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein had admitted giving the money and gold to Suu Kyi, but presented no evidence.

Myanmar has been roiled by protests, strikes and other acts of civil disobedience since the coup toppled Suu Kyi’s government Feb. 1 just as it was to start its second term. The takeover reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in the Southeast Asian nation after five decades of military rule.

Local press reports and posts on social media on Thursday said there were six deaths in Myaing, a town in the central Magway Region, and one each in Yangon, Mandalay, Bago and Taungoo. In many cases, photos of what were said to be the bodies of the dead were posted online.

Security forces have attacked previous protests with live ammunition as well, leading to the deaths of at least 60 people. They have also employed tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and stun grenades. Many demonstrators have been brutally beaten.

On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously called for reversing the coup and strongly condemned the violence against peaceful protesters. It also called for “utmost restraint” by the military.

An independent U.N. rights expert focusing on Myanmar told the the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council on Thursday that violence against protesters and even “people sitting peacefully in their homes” was rising. He said the junta was detaining dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people every day.