‘It was like a warzone’ – soldiers linked to Rohingya atrocities involved in murders of Mandalay protesters

Amar Kyi could hear the gunfire and screams from her house as police and soldiers attacked unarmed protesters in Mandalay on Saturday. “It was like a war zone,” she told Myanmar Now. “They were firing non-stop. We were hiding inside terrified.”

But when she and members of her family heard people shouting that someone had been shot, they put their fear aside and went outside to see who it was. 

“It was my son,” she said.   

Myo Min Tun, 42, is being treated at Mandalay General Hospital after being hit in the chest. He is one of at least 14 people who were seriously injured in the attack. 

Another two were killed. Wai Yan Tun, 16, was shot in the head and died instantly, while Thet Naing Win, a 40-year-old carpenter also known by the name of Min Min, died on the way to the hospital from a bullet wound to his chest. 

It is still unclear whether police or soldiers fired the fatal shots, but troops from the 33rd Light Infantry Division took part in Saturday’s crackdown at the Yadanarbon shipyard. 

The notorious unit was involved in the massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys at the village of Inn Din in Rakhine state in 2017.

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

Staff from the Inland Water Transport Department, like many thousands of state employees around the country, are refusing to work to prevent coup leader Min Aung Hlaing from asserting power through government mechanisms. 

A man in police uniform aims a gun during the crackdown in Mandalay on Saturday. (Myanmar Now)


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

“It was utterly ruthless,” said an emergency worker who helped treat the injured and asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. 

Wai Yan Tun appeared to have been shot with “very powerful ammo” the emergency worker said. “The kid’s skull was cracked.” 

“There was no warning before they started firing,” he added. “It was complete tyranny against unarmed civilians.” 

It is still unclear how many were arrested, but video footage shared on social media showed soldiers rounding up several people.

Soldiers and police violently attacked protesters at the Yadanabon shipyard in Mandalay. (Myanmar Now)

By Sunday afternoon all those injured except Myo Min Tun had been discharged from hospital, emergency workers and doctors said. 

Wai Yan Tun worked as a labourer at a local market but joined anti-coup protests around the city in recent weeks whenever he had time, said U Htoo, who took care of the teenager and is the father of one of his friends. 

“He left the house for work yesterday,” U Htoo said. “When the soldiers’ trucks arrived he went to see. We never got to see him again after that.”  

U Htoo said he did not know how to contact Wai Yan Tun’s mother or father. “He never spoke about his parents,” he said.  

An injured person is carried on a stretcher after the crackdown in Mandalay on Feb.20. (Myanmar Now)

UN condemnation   

Thet Naing Win, the carpenter, had a wife and 7-year-old child. “We realized he was dead when some of our neighbours showed us a picture of an unclaimed body that was posted on Facebook,” Khin Hnin Nyunt, the man’s mother-in-law, told Myanmar Now.

His wife took his body from the morgue on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday’s attack was the deadliest in more than two weeks of nationwide protests against the military regime.

UN Secretary General António Guterres condemned the crackdown and called for a return to civilian rule. 

“The use of lethal force, intimidation & harassment against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable,” he said on Twitter.

Facebook took down the page of the military’s True News Information Team on Sunday ”for repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm,” a spokesperson said.

Emergency workers help bring an injured person to hospital. (Myanmar Now)

On Friday, 20-year-old Mya Thwe Thwe Khine passed away after a police officer shot her in the head last week, leaving her brain dead and on life support. Ten of thousands attended her funeral in Naypyitaw on Sunday.

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, president Win Myint and several other top government officials are among more than 500 who have been detained since the February 1 coup. 

Since the takeover, the military and police have used violence against peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw, Mandalay, Myitkyina and elsewhere.

The new regime has also amended several laws in a bid to suppress the uprising, including reimposing a widely-hated requirement that people register overnight guests.

Protesters have called for a massive general strike on Monday “to close everything except essential services”. Hundreds of thousands are expected to take to the streets.

Editor’s Note: This article originally identified one of the victims of the military crackdown as 36-year-old Thet Naing Win. It has been updated to reflect his correct age, 40, and include the name by which he was widely known, Min Min. 

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