People returned to the streets of Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s remote capital, and Yangon, on Wednesday, after the police used rubber bullets and water cannon to break up protests leaving two people in hospital, one of them fighting for her life.
Several civil servants from the energy ministry were seen walking out of their workplace on Wednesday, as they denounced the coup leaders and called for the restoration of parliament.
“The coup must fail,” the protesters shouted.
In the country’s largest city of Yangon, thousands of protesters also took to the streets, with many young female demonstrators wearing costumes as a way to creatively show their opposition to the military.
Meanwhile, images on social media showed dozens of Myanmar police officers from Kayah State joining the protest and raising the three finger salute in defiance of the military.
Healthcare workers, in their green hospital gowns and with their masks on, also joined in the protests in Karen State’s Myawaddy Township, according to a report by the Irrawaddy News.
The United Nations and the United States condemned the use of force against the protesters, who want elected leader Aung Suu Kyi Kyi and other politicians from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) released and a return to civilian rule.
“We cannot stay quiet,” youth leader Esther Ze Naw told Reuters news agency. “If there is blood shed during our peaceful protests, then there will be more if we let them take over the country.”
Hundreds of government workers marched through Naypyidaw in support of a civil disobedience campaign that sprung up in the wake of last week’s coup and has been joined by people including doctors, teachers and railway workers. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets across the country in recent days.
Late on Tuesday, the military raided the Yangon headquarters of the NLD.
“The military dictator raided and destroyed NLD headquarters at around 9.30pm (15:00 GMT),” the National League for Democracy announced in a short statement on its Facebook page.
The raid was carried out by about a dozen police personnel, who forced their way into the building in the commercial capital after dark, elected lawmakers said.
The party, which won November 2020’s election by a landslide, had been due to start a second term on the day the military seized power.
The raid followed the fourth day of demonstrations across Myanmar with police using water cannon in several cities, firing rubber-coated bullets in Naypyidaw and deploying tear gas in Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city.
The US condemned the escalation, urging the military to free Aung San Suu Kyi and others detained in last week’s coup and step down.
“We strongly condemn violence against demonstrators,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington, DC. “All individuals in Burma have rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, including for the purposes of peaceful protest.”
Price said the US’s attempts to reach Aung San Suu Kyi “in the hours and days after the coup” had been denied, but he said the international community was “attempting every avenue to ensure that democracy and civilian leadership is restored in Burma.” Myanmar was previously known as Burma.
In Naypyidaw, built by a previous military regime in secrecy, witnesses said police fired projectiles at protesters after earlier dousing them with water cannon.
“They fired warning shots to the sky two times, then they fired (at protesters) with rubber bullets,” a resident told AFP news agency.
At least one doctor in a hospital emergency unit said the military was also using live rounds, leaving a 23-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman in a critical condition in hospital.
“We believe they are actual bullets because of the wounds and their injuries,” the doctor said.
Another doctor said the woman who was shot in the head remained in a critical condition, but was not expected to survive. Social media video verified by Reuters news agency showed her with other protesters some distance from a row of riot police as a water cannon was deployed.
Several shots were also heard and the woman, wearing a motorcycle helmet, suddenly collapsed.
Pictures of her helmet showed what appeared to be a bullet hole.
The father of the 23-year-old said his son had been shot “when he tried to use the megaphone to ask people to protest peacefully after the police used water cannon to disperse them.”
“He got hit in the back … I’m very worried about him,” the 56-year-old goldsmith told AFP.