Myanmar's minorities to protest in show of unity against coup

People take to the streets in Yangon Myanmar on Feb. 19 2021 to protest against the Feb. 1 military coup. ==Kyodo

Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who turned 20 last Thursday as she lay unconscious in a hospital bed, was shot in the head during a demonstration in the capital last week.

It also came a day after the first protester to be killed since the protests began following the February 1 military coup died in hospital in the capital Naypyitaw after 10 days on life support.

Her death on Friday, announced by her family, was the first confirmed fatality among thousands of protesters who have faced off against security forces since top military commander Min Aung Hlaing took power in the coup.

Opponents of the coup took to the streets in several Myanmar cities and towns with members of ethnic minorities, poets and transport workers among those demanding an end to military rule and the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others.

The doctor, who asked to remain anonymous due to safety fears, said Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing's story had given impetus to a civil disobedience movement in Myanmar, which medical personnel have been a central part of.

Security forces have responded with increasing force, deploying troops against peaceful rallies and firing tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets. She has since become a symbol of resistance for protesters, who have hoisted her photos high in demonstrations and even unfurled a massive banner of artwork from a bridge showing the moment she was shot.

Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing died on Friday while in intensive care at a hospital in the capital Naypyitaw, where she had been on life support for 10 days since she was shot by police cracking down on demonstrators.

"I feel really sad and have nothing to say", said her brother Ye Htut Aung. "That's all I want to say", her sister Poh Poh told reporters after her death.

Many countries have urged authorities to avoid violence. The military has blamed protesters for instigating violence.

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"Sanctioning military leaders is largely symbolic, but the moves to sanction military companies will be much more effective", said Mr Mark Farmaner, director of the Burma Campaign UK group.

"We will work with partners and allies to press the Burmese military to reverse its actions".

Almost 550 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), with 500 still behind bars.

As well as the protests, a civil disobedience campaign has paralysed much of government business and worldwide pressure is building on the military.

The internet monitor NetBlocks reported that Wikipedia had been blocked in the country, joining a list of banned content that included Facebook and other social media services.

Suu Kyi came to power after her National League for Democracy party won a 2015 election, but the generals retained substantial power under the constitution, which was adopted under a military regime.

The U.S., British and Canadian governments have imposed sanctions on the new military leaders, and they and other nations have called for Ms. Suu Kyi's administration to be restored.

A small group of protesters were forcefully dispersed by police and military wielding batons in the northern city of Myitkyina on Friday, according to video posted online and witnesses.

Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest and charged with breaching import-export laws - charges described by Amnesty as "trumped up."

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