On Wednesday, Myanmar security forces cracked down brutally on civilians, reportedly killing at least 33 protestors calling for an end to the coup of military forces in the region. This is in addition to other protestors killed on Saturday, which the UN estimates numbered at least 18 people. International observers have noted that this increase in security forces using violence to quell the uprising could unite the international response to the coup.
The death toll, notably, could be even higher than 33. Videos from social media accounts in the region show security forces chasing down protestors and even viciously beating ambulance crews trying to rush protestors to medical facilities. Following the coup that ousted the democratically-elected Aung San Suu Kyi, protestors in the streets of cities across Myanmar have numbered in the thousands.
Even as the security forces have cracked down, protestors remain present in the country in high numbers. The security forces have resorted to using rubber bullets, tear gas, and even, brutally, live ammunition. The security forces have arrested protesters in large numbers since the coup took place, with the fight threatening to mar the country in an ugly civil war.
The battle is, sadly, not new in the Southeast Asian country. Roughly five years of military rule in the region have been slowly reverting to democratic governance. However, the recent coup has upended that gradual process, bringing the country back under full-blown military control. The region is also no stranger to peaceful protests: for decades, peaceful resistance to military rule has been met by varying levels of military pushback.
The current death toll numbers were collected by a person in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, who has remained anonymous to protect their personal safety. The data collector said they felt as though they had a duty to collect and report on the deaths out of respect for those killed by the military forces. Many anti-military protestors have called those killed by the security forces “heroic,” and heralded their sacrifices as being part of an ongoing fight for democracy in the region.
The crackdown has also included the arrest of many members of the press. The UN security council is expected to convene to discuss what should be done about the growing crisis on Friday. However, it is unclear what recourse the international community will have to resolve the violence. Notably, China and Russia are likely to veto any official UN sanctions that would see the country receiving punitive actions.