Myanmar junta orders removal of protesters' monuments

Protests continue in several areas despite brutal crackdown by security forces

Myanmar junta orders removal of protesters' monuments

Security forces have ordered cemetery officials to demolish monuments erected to commemorate slain protesters in a Myanmar town, media reports and rights groups said on Monday.

At least 82 people were shot and killed on April 9 during a crackdown on anti-regime protests in Bago, a town about 75 km northeast of the commercial capital Yangon, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

On Sunday, the military regime in Bago summoned 17 volunteer groups and ordered them to demolish any monuments they had built in the Sin Phyu Kwin cemetery.

“They [military] ordered us to demolish a monument-like structure and remove any sign of revolution from the tombs by Monday,” a Bago-based volunteer told Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity. “They said they don’t want to see any sign related to the anti-regime movement left."

Volunteer groups and officials built a tomb with a Spring Revolution – anti-coup protests – inscription in the cemetery mid-February when the town first saw the deadly crackdown that killed nine protesters.

He went into hiding as he does not want to follow the military order, but said some volunteer groups have been demolishing the monuments and separating the tombs they built side by side.

“They killed more than 100 people here, and then erasing their memorials ... this is inhumane,” he said.

The regime has killed at least 737 people since the Feb.1 military coup, besides detaining 3,229 and sentencing 75 others, according to AAPP.

Despite the brutal crackdown by security forces, anti-regime protests continue in several places, mostly in rural areas.

Tensions escalated in the town of Myitgyan, central Mandalay region after a bank branch was attacked with homemade bombs Sunday evening.

The Irrawaddy, a local news outlet, said at least six members of security forces were killed and 13 others injured during clashes with civilians.

Armed clashes were also reported in the northern Kachin state, which borders China, and the eastern Kayin state that is close to Thailand.

The Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, a Bangladesh-based Rohingya rights body, has appealed to ousted Myanmar parliamentarians for the inclusion of Rohingya representatives in the recently announced temporary National Unity Government.

The government in exile consists mainly of parliamentarians from the National League for Democracy who were elected in the November 2020 general election.

“... they must include the Rohingya minority in the mechanisms they are setting up to govern the country,” said a statement issued late Sunday. Terming it as a "good initiative," the group called for protecting the rights of the "most persecuted community.”

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh in 2017 as the Myanmar military launched a crackdown that saw villages being burned down, extrajudicial killings, and rape.