Clashes took place on Thursday, February 25, 2021, between supporters of the military junta of Burma and the inhabitants of the city of Rangoun during a new demonstration against the military coup d’état perpetrated on February 1.
Hundreds of pro-junta activists, carrying signs that read “We support our defence forces,” marched on Thursday in the centre of Rangoun, Burma’s largest city. The military authorities gave them permission to access the iconic Sule Pagoda, a strategic crossroads that had remained barricaded in recent days and denied access to anti-state demonstrators.
The residents began to strike, as a response, on pots and pans, an act that became a symbol of the anti-junta resistance, in protest against the pro-military demonstration. Clashes broke out near Rangoun Central Station at 12:00 (local time).
Pro-military supporters, some of whom were armed with pipes, knives and slingshots, turned against the people who were looting them. But with more of them than pro-junta activists, the inhabitants responded and arrested some of them who were equipped with batons, pocket knives and slings. When the police arrived, women and children, fearing that the police would try to arrest residents, immediately formed a human shield.
Since the military coup, three people have been killed during demonstrations. A man on patrol to avoid mass arrests in his neighborhood was shot dead in Rangoon.
“The use of live bullets against unarmed people is unacceptable,” the G7 Foreign Ministers said in a statement on 23 February. “Anyone who responds to peaceful protests with violence must be held accountable.”They warned, calling on the Burmese security forces to exercise utmost restraint.
The UN envoy for Burma, Christine Schraner Burgener, believes that targeted sanctions are needed to put pressure on the coup. Moreover, it will report on the situation on Friday, February 26, at a special meeting of the UN General Assembly devoted to Burma.
The Burmese army used rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons and sometimes even live gunfire against the demonstrators. In addition, night-time internet cuts, ordered by the junta, cause fear that the latter will take advantage of them to carry out massive arrests of opponents.