Myanmar coup: Police fire rubber bullets as protesters defy ban

(BBC) – Police in Myanmar have fired rubber bullets during a demonstration in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, as thousands defied a ban on protests.

Water cannons and tear gas have also been used against protesters, who are standing against a coup that removed the elected government last week.
BBC Burmese has been told at least two protesters have been seriously injured.
The fourth day of consecutive protests is under way, despite new restrictions being introduced on Monday.
Both a ban on large public gatherings and night-time curfews have been instigated in some cities, with military leader Min Aung Hlaing warning that no-one is above the law.
Protesters in Myanmar have been demanding the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, along with senior leaders of her National League for Democracy Party (NLD). She was arrested when the military seized power.
The army has declared a year-long state of emergency and claimed, without evidence, that an earlier election was fraudulent.

How did the situation escalate?

Earlier on Tuesday, police began using water cannon against protesters in Nay Pyi Taw.
But the crowd withstood the barrage of water fired at them and refused to retreat, according to Reuters news agency.
“End the military dictatorship,” people yelled.
Warning shots were eventually fired into the air, before rubber bullets were fired at protesters.

According to BBC Burmese, who spoke to an unnamed medical officer from a Nay Pyi Taw hospital, two protesters are seriously injured, suffering from a head and chest wound respectively. It is not yet clear how exactly they were hurt.

Another doctor in an emergency clinic said he had treated three patients with wounds suspected to be from rubber bullets. They have now been transferred to a main hospital, he told Reuters.
There are numerous unconfirmed reports of police officers crossing over to join protesters. In some areas, police also allowed demonstrators through their barricades.
The BBC’s South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head said it was clear officers were making a “more determined effort” to disperse protesters, but added that they were still using non-lethal measures.

Previous protests against the country’s decades-long military rule, in 1988 and 2007, saw demonstrators killed.

What are protesters saying?

“We come here well aware of the ban over gatherings of more than five people,” one young male protester told BBC Burmese, as he gathered with others near a UN building in Yangon in a bid to boost international attention. “However, we come out because we have to protest until the president and Mother Suu are freed,” he added, referring to leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has not been heard from since being placed under house arrest.

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