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Myanmar’s post-coup civilian death toll climbs past 700

A security guard was wounded in a bomb blast outside a military-owned bank in Myanmar’s second-biggest city Sunday morning, as the civilian death toll from the junta’s brutal crackdown on dissent topped more than 700 at the weekend.

This screengrab provided via AFPTV video footage shows Lynn Thant (an alias) wearing a mask next to a laptop where they are working on an underground newsletter to spread information in Yangon, amid internet outages as demonstrations continue against the military coup. AFP
The country has been in turmoil since the military removed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Myawaddy Bank’s biggest branch in Mandalay was targeted on Sunday morning and a security guard was injured in the explosion, according to local media.

There was a heavy security presence in the area following the blast.

The bank is one of scores of military-controlled businesses that have faced boycott pressure since the coup, with many customers demanding to withdraw their savings.

There has been heavy bloodletting in recent days.

On Saturday a local monitoring group said security forces gunned down and killed 82 anti-coup protesters the previous day in the city of Bago, 65 kilometers northeast of Yangon.

AFP-verified footage shot early Friday showed protesters hiding behind sandbag barricades wielding homemade rifles, as explosions were heard in the background.

The United Nations office in Myanmar tweeted late Saturday that it was following the bloodshed in Bago, where it said medical treatment had been denied to the injured.

Overall the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has verified 701 civilian deaths since the putsch.

The junta has a far lower number: 248, according to a spokesman Friday.

Despite the bloodshed, protesters continued to rally in parts of the country.

University students and their professors marched through the streets of Mandalay and the city of Meiktila on Sunday morning, according to local media.

Some carried stems of Eugenia flowers – a symbol of victory.

In Yangon, protesters carried a banner that read: “We will get victory, we will win.”

Myanmar youth are also fighting the junta’s internet shutdown and information suppression with an explosive underground printed newsletter they are secretly distributing across communities.

For 56 days straight there have been internet outages in coup-hit Myanmar, according to monitoring group NetBlocks.

Thirty-year-old Lynn Thant, not his real name, started the underground newsletter and gave it the edgy name Molotov to appeal to young people.

“This is our response to those who slow down the flow of information – and that’s a threat to us,” he told AFP.

Thousands of readers across the country are downloading the PDF version of the publication and printing out and distributing physical copies across neighbourhoods in Yangon and Mandalay and other areas.

“If we write revolutionary literature and distribute it like this, we could end up in prison for many years,” he said, his face concealed by one of the Guy Fawkes masks popularised by the dystopian movie “V for Vendetta.”

“Even if one of us is arrested, there are young people who will carry on producing the Molotov newsletter. Even if one of us is killed, someone else will come up when someone falls. This Molotov newsletter will continue to exist until the revolution is successful.”

Topics: Myanmar , Hacker , death , coup , Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
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