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More Protests and Funeral Follow Deadly Shootings in Myanmar Over Coup

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Protesters gathered again Sunday all over Myanmar, a day after security forces shot dead two people at a demonstration in the country’s second biggest city. A funeral was also held for a young woman killed earlier by police.

Mya Thwet Thwet Khine was the first confirmed death among the many thousands who have taken to the streets to protest the Feb. 1 coup that toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The woman was shot on Feb. 9, two days before her 20th birthday, at a protest in the capital Nayptitaw, and died Friday.

About 1,000 people in cars and bikes gathered Sunday morning at the hospital where her body was held amid tight security, with even the victim’s grandparents who had traveled from Yangon, five hours away, denied entry. When her body was released, a long motorized procession began a drive to the cemetery.

In Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, about 1,000 demonstrators honored the woman under an elevated roadway.

I want to say through the media to the dictator and his associates, we are peaceful demonstrators,” said protester Min Htet Naing. Stop the genocide! Stop using lethal weapons!

Another large protest took place in Mandalay, where police shot dead two people on Saturday near a dockyard as security forces were trying to force workers to load a boat. The workers, like railway workers and truckers and many civil servants, have been taking part in a civil disobedience campaign against the junta.

Shooting broke out after neighborhood residents rushed to the Yadanabon dock to try to assist the workers in their resistance. One of the victims, described as a teenage boy, was shot in the head and died immediately, while another was shot in the chest and died en route to a hospital.

Several other serious injuries were also reported. Witness accounts and photos of bullet casings indicated that the security forces used live ammunition, in addition to rubber bullets, water cannons and slingshots.

The new deaths drew quick and strong reaction from the international community.

The shooting of peaceful protesters in is beyond the pale, said British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Twitter. We will consider further action, with our international partners, against those crushing democracy & choking dissent.

Britain last week froze assets of and imposed travel bans on three top Myanmar generals, adding to already existing targeted sanctions.

Singapore, which together with Myanmar is part of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, issued a statement condemning the use of lethal force as inexcusable.

Urging utmost restraint on the part of security forces, it warned that if the situation continues to escalate, there will be serious adverse consequences for Myanmar and the region.

Another shooting death took place Saturday night in Yangon in unclear circumstances. According to several accounts on social media, including a live broadcast that showed the body, the victim was a man who was acting as a volunteer guard for a neighborhood watch group. Such groups were established because of fears that authorities were using criminals released from prison to spread panic and fear by setting fires and committing violent acts.

Another live broadcast on Facebook showed the wife of actor Lu Min describing to neighbors how her husband was arrested and taken away from their home shortly after midnight. He was one of six high-profile people in the entertainment industry charged last week with inciting civil servants to stop work and join the protest movement, which he and the others have publicly championed.

On Sunday, Facebook announced it took down the page run by the Myanmar military information unit for repeated violations of our community standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm. It had already taken down other accounts linked to the military.

The junta took power after detaining Suu Kyi and preventing Parliament from convening, saying elections last November were tainted by voting irregularities. The election outcome, in which Suu Kyis National League for Democracy party won by a landslide, was affirmed by an election commission that has since been replaced by the military. The junta says it will hold new elections in a years time.

The coup was a major setback to Myanmars transition to democracy after 50 years of army rule that began with a 1962 coup. Suu Kyi came to power after her party won a 2015 election, but the generals retained substantial power under the constitution, which was adopted under a military regime.



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Gujarat Congress chief and Leader of Opposition resign after poll debacle

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Taking responsibility for the embarrassing defeat in the recently concluded local body polls in Gujarat, Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda and Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda and Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani have tendered their resignations. However, both will continue on their post until the party top leadership finds their suitable replacements.

The party has accepted the resignation of the two leaders and requested them to continue till the end of March, as the state assembly session is underway, a report published in DeshGujarat said.

Chavda had expressed shock at the results of the local body polls, claiming that the party was receiving a good response from the people. He even blamed the EVMs for the Congress party’s poll debacle.

“The election results are totally opposite to what our expectations were. We had received good responses from people during our campaigning but the results do not reflect it. People have raised doubts on EVMs and all these things should be probed,” Chavda said.

In December 2019, the Congress party had indicated that there would be an imminent change in the party leadership. However, with the local body polls slated to occur in late February, the decision to bring in new leadership was shelved until after the local elections. Following Congress’ disastrous performance in the local body elections and the subsequent resignation of the Gujarat Congress party chief, a change in the guard is inevitable.

Earlier last week, Gujarat Congress working President Hardik Patel expressed his displeasure over the functioning of the party. He had then alleged that the Congress party was not using him to his potential. The Patidar leader claimed Congress had not organised a single public meeting for him ahead of the local body elections.

Congress wiped out as BJP sweeps local body polls in Gujarat

The crisis facing the Congress party precipitated in the wake of the Gujarat local body polls. The BJP has won all 31 seats, a majority of 81 municipalities, and over 200 of the 230 talukas that had gone to the polls on February 28. The emphatic victory came a week after the saffron party swept all six municipal corporations.

This is in stark contrast to the 2015 local body polls when Congress had made impressive gains on the back of the Patidar agitation that had roiled the state. The BJP had then faced a thorough pasting in 24 of the 31 district panchayats, along with losing 138 of the total 228 taluka panchayats. The party had, however, maintained its semi-urban base intact by winning 45 of the 57 municipalities.

The Congress party, on the other hand, could win only 1,768 seats, three municipalities and a few taluka panchayat bodies. It failed to open its account in any district panchayat.

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