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Illustration by Security Management

Junta Declares Martial Law in Areas of Myanmar

At least 38 people were killed and dozens injured on Sunday during a crackdown on protests and resistance in Myanmar. The ruling junta has declared martial law in parts of Yangon—Myanmar’s largest city—after protests against last month’s military coup continued to grow, the AP reported.

This weekend’s violence appears to raise the tally of civilian deaths by security forces after the coup to more than 100. However, the actual number is likely higher—police allegedly seized some bodies, and some victims were unlikely to be given adequate medical treatment at makeshift field clinics. Hospitals are occupied by security forces, AP reported, and were boycotted by medical personnel and shunned by protesters.

Since the takeover in early February, Myanmar has been under a nationwide state of emergency; military leaders took charge of all government, and civilian leaders were either ousted or detained. The announcement on state television late Sunday appeared to signal the first official use of martial law, suggesting more direct military control of security rather than relying on local police, AP reported. Under martial law, protesters can now be tried in military courts, which the BBC said could result in harsher sentencing.

Video footage from Yangon showed crowds of people running away from the sounds of gunfire, spraying fire extinguishers behind themselves to smother tear gas and obstruct police views of fleeing protesters. Anti-coup demonstrators held mass candlelight vigils Saturday and Sunday nights.

Some protesters attacked 32 Chinese-owned factories in Yangon on Sunday, according to The International Business Times. Many in the pro-democracy movement believe that China has sided with the military during the coup, sparking widespread anger among protesters. Chinese officials are urging Myanmar police to “guarantee the security” of Chinese businesses in the country.  

Taiwan advised its companies in Myanmar to prominently fly the island’s flag over factories and properties to help distinguish them from Chinese businesses. Some Taiwanese businesses have been mistakenly targeted by anti-Chinese actors in Southeast Asia, The International Business Times reported.