Geneva, March 8 (AFP/APP):The United Nations said Monday that Myanmar security forces had cordoned some 200 peaceful protesters in Yangon, voicing concern about their safety and demanding they be allowed to leave.
“We are deeply concerned about the fate of some 200 peaceful protesters — incl. women — who have been cordoned by security forces in Yangon,” the UN rights office said in a tweet, warning that the cordoned protesters “may be at risk of arrest or ill-treatment.”
“We urge the police to immediately allow them to leave safely and without reprisals.”
The comments came after three anti-coup protesters were shot dead Monday as demonstrators across the country sought to paralyse the economy with strike action following a weekend of night raids and arrests.
The country has been in turmoil since a February 1 coup ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and triggered mass protests against the new military junta.
The police and military have responded with an increasingly brutal crackdown on demonstrators, with more than 50 people killed and nearly 1,800 arrested.
After a full day of protests on Monday, UN rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell said an estimated 200 participants “had been stopped from leaving a four-street area in the Sanchaung area of Yangon.”
“The area is surrounded by a large contingent of military and there were concerns that when the curfew hour comes, the security forces will move in to arrest everyone,” she told AFP in an email.
“The military has announced a ‘night-time census of the area’, and the civil society groups are worried about what may happen.”
The rights office said there were also “fears that the military will go house-to-house arresting those who don’t live there.”
The spokeswoman said there had been reports of demonstrators descending on the area from outside to pressure the military to allow everyone to leave.
At around 10 pm, “police began shooting and making arrests,” she said, adding that “it is unclear if they were arresting trapped protesters or newly-arrived demonstrators.”
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