By Linda Bordoni
More than 300 people have been killed by security forces in Myanmar since last month’s military takeover.
A group of observers that monitors the deaths and arrests of protesters on Friday said its tally of 320 deaths includes only documented cases, with the actual number of casualties “likely much higher.”
The latest killings came on Friday as three anti-junta protesters were shot and killed by officers, on the heels of 11 others killed on Thursday, according to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The association also revealed that almost 3,000 protesters have been arrested, charged or sentenced in the crackdown since the February 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Most, including Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, remain detained. The army's seizure of power halted the Southeast Asian nation’s move toward democracy that began when Suu Kyi’s party took office in 2016 for its first term, after more than five decades of military rule.
In the early hours of Friday morning, unidentified people reportedly tossed firebombs at the headquarters of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party in Yangon, but nearby residents managed to put out the fire before it could cause any major damage
Pope Francis has called for dialogue and an end to violence in Myanmar, noting that “many people, especially the young, are losing their lives to offer hope to their country.”
The Catholic bishops of the Southeast Asian nation have also repeatedly urged the military to refrain from violence and resolve the crisis through peaceful mediation.
The popular movement against the junta and its takeover received a major boost on Thursday when the United States and Britain announced tough sanctions against two military-owned conglomerates with vast holdings in many sectors. All this, while Myanmar’s home-grown Civil Disobedience Movement against military rule is targeting the economy in order to make it difficult for the junta to govern.
Meanwhile, as rallies continue to take place across the nation, organisers have called for widespread protests on Saturday, observed as Armed Forces Day, commemorating the start of the military's resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945.