Myanmar was bracing for another day of protests on Wednesday against last week’s military coup, while the United States and others condemned violence against demonstrators the previous day.
As protesters defied a ban on large gatherings and their numbers grew into the hundreds of thousands on Tuesday, police fired warning shots and rubber bullets, and some injuries were reported including a young woman on life support after being shot in the head.
Authorities on Tuesday night searched the Yangon headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the Feb. 1 takeover.
With Suu Kyi and other senior party officials detained, and other NLD offices already searched, there is a mounting fear that the military may seek to dissolve the party.
“We strongly condemn violence against demonstrators,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday. “All individuals in Burma have rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, including for the purposes of peaceful protest.”
The U.S. government calls on the military to give up power, release those who have been detained, and refrain from violence, Price said, suggesting that the government may unveil a new policy on the Southeast Asian country in the coming days.
Following the coup, the administration of President Joe Biden has been weighing such measures as reducing aid to Myanmar and imposing sanctions on the country.
The military launched the coup after rejecting the results of last November’s general election, which Suu Kyi’s NLD won by a landslide. The NLD, which came to power in 2016 following a landslide victory in the 2015 general election, was set to start a second term in government.
Large protests erupted Saturday and have been held every day since. Authorities have imposed a ban on gatherings of more than four people as well as a nighttime curfew on parts of the country, including the largest city Yangon, the second-largest city Mandalay and the capital Naypyitaw.
The Naypyitaw Government Hospital admitted two protesters with bullet wounds, one with a terminal wound to the head and the other hit in the chest but in less serious condition, a doctor at the hospital told local media.
The doctor, who was not identified, said the head trauma patient was on life support without long to live, while the other’s injury is not life-threatening.