A young woman who was shot in the head by police during a protest last week against the military’s takeover of power in Myanmar died Friday morning, her brother said.
Hers is the first confirmed death among the protesters who by the thousands have faced off with security forces after a junta took power Feb. 1, detained Myanmar’s elected leaders and prevented Parliament from convening.
Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, 19, was shot during a demonstration in the capital Naypyitaw on Feb. 9. Video showed her sheltering from water cannons and suddenly dropping to the ground after a bullet penetrated a motorcycle helmet she had been wearing. She had been on life support at a hospital with what doctors had said was no chance of recovery.
Her brother, Ye Htut Aung, who spoke to The Associated Press from a mortuary, said she died at 11:05 a.m. Friday. A source at Naypyitaw’s 1000-Bed General Hospital, speaking on condition on anonymity because of fear of harassment from the authorities, confirmed her death.
A spokesman for the ruling military did not deny the woman had been shot by security forces, but said at a news conference this week that she was one of the crowd that had thrown rocks at police and the case was under investigation. There were no independent accounts of her taking part in any violence.
Protesters had already hailed Mya Thwet Thwet Khine as a hero and commemorated her during demonstrations earlier this week. News of her death is likely to inflame passions even more in the nonviolent protest movement, which embraces civil disobedience.
Demonstrations continued Friday in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, and elsewhere.
Police use force in northern state
Security forces so far have been relatively restrained on confronting protesters in Yangon, but appeared to be toughening their stance in locations where there is less media presence.
Police used force for a second straight day to arrest protesters in Myitkyina, the capital of the remote northern state of Kachin. The Kachin ethnic minority has long been at odds with the central government, and there has been intermittent armed struggle against the army there for decades.
On Thursday night in the southeastern city of Dawei, local media reported that several people were wounded by rubber bullets when police staged nighttime raids to try to arrest some activists. Large but peaceful protest marches have taken place in the city, with negotiations between the demonstrators and the authorities to avoid confrontations.
WATCH | Myanmar military tightens grip after takeover: