Authorities blame death of protester shot in Mandalay on Covid-19

A man who was injured during a crackdown on protesters in Mandalay last week has died, bringing the total number of fatalities from the deadliest day of protests so far to three.

According to his wife, Yar Zar Aung, 26, died at a military hospital in Mandalay on Wednesday morning and was cremated later the same day.

“His body was cremated at 4pm at the Kyarni Kan cemetery. Only four family members were permitted to attend and we were only able to look at him from a distance, as they said he had died of Covid-19,” Phyu Phyu Win, the dead man’s wife, told Myanmar Now.

“When we attempted to take his body [from the hospital], they wouldn’t let us. Instead, they said we had to cremate him right away,” she added.

Noting that her husband had been severely beaten and had also suffered a gunshot wound to his knee, Phyu Phyu Win disputed the official cause of death.

“I don’t believe that [he died of Covid-19]. He died of his injuries from being hit and beaten. When he was arrested, he didn’t have any symptoms of Covid-19,” she said.

The wife of another patient at the hospital confirmed that Yar Zar Aung died at around 10am on Wednesday while receiving treatment for his injuries.

“Yes, it’s true that he passed away. I just contacted his family. The soldiers and police are checking his body. I didn’t see any bandages on him. He had a gunshot wound and other injuries from being beaten,” said the witness, who asked not to be named.

The woman, who said her own husband was at risk of losing his hand due to an injury inflicted during the crackdown, added that Yar Zar Aung’s body was under guard by the police.

The hospital did not respond to requests for further information.

At least 30 people were injured when soldiers and police used force to break up a demonstration near the Yadanarbon shipyard on Mandalay’s Strand road last Saturday.

One of the protesters, 16-year-old Wai Yan Tun, was killed instantly when he was shot in the head, while another, Thet Naing Win, 36, died on the way to the hospital of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The violence began after hundreds gathered to support striking shipyard workers when police tried to arrest them.

About 20 trucks full of security personnel arrived to stamp out the demonstrations, using catapults, water cannon and rubber bullets as well as live rounds.

More than 80 people were arrested, including some who had suffered serious injuries.

“On that day, doctors and volunteers demanded to be allowed to treat those who had been hurt, including some who had been shot, but they [security forces] wouldn’t let them,” said Win Zaw Oo, a lawyer who has been assisting the families of some of the arrested protesters.

“Instead, they just shoved them into the truck. There was even a man whose hand had been blown off.”

Most of those still in custody have been charged with incitement under section 505a of the Penal Code, while some have been accused of possession of a deadly weapon, the lawyer added.

A volunteer who was present during the crackdown said that the most severely injured were sent to military hospitals.

“While we were trying to save lives, they [security forces] were shooting at us. They shot our ambulances. It was terrifying, but we had to try to save them amid the flying bullets,” he said.

Brig-Gen Zaw Min Htun, the spokesperson for the ruling military council, told reporters at a recent press conference that protesters had provoked the violence.

Related Articles

Back to top button