Funerals become scenes of Myanmar resistance, more violence

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Anti-coup protesters run around their makeshift barricade they burn to make defense line during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)

YANGON – Myanmar security forces opened fire Sunday on a crowd attending the funeral of student who was killed on the bloodiest day yet of a crackdown on protests against last month's coup, local media reported.

The escalating violence — which took the lives of at least 114 people Saturday, including several children — has prompted a U.N. human rights expert to accuse the junta of committing “mass murder” and to criticize the international community for not doing enough to stop it.

The Security Council is likely to hold closed consultations on the escalating situation in Myanmar, U.N. diplomats said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement. The council has condemned the violence and called for a restoration of democracy, but has not yet considered possible sanctions against the military, which would require support or an abstention by Myanmar's neighbor and friend China.

The mounting death tolls have not stopped the demonstrations against the Feb. 1 takeover — or the violent response of the military and police to them. Myanmar Now reported that the junta's troops shot at mourners at the funeral in the city of Bago for Thae Maung Maung, a 20-year-old killed on Saturday. He was reportedly a member of the All Burma Federation of Student Union, which has a long history of supporting pro-democracy movements in the country.

According to the report, several people attending the funeral were arrested. It did not say if anyone was hurt or killed. But at least nine people were killed elsewhere Sunday as the crackdown continued, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been documenting deaths during demonstrations against the coup.

Some of the funerals held Sunday became themselves opportunities to demonstrate resistance to the junta.

At one in Bhamo in the northern state of Kachin, a large crowd chanted democracy slogans and raised the three-finger salute that has come to symbolize defiance of the takeover. Family and friends were paying their respects to Shwe Myint, a 36-year-old who was shot dead by security forces on Saturday.

The military had initially seized her body and refused to return it until her family signed a statement that her death was not caused by them, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma, a broadcast and online news service.