Nun pleads with police not to harm protesters in Myanmar

Sister of mercy: Nun pleads with police not to harm protesters in Myanmar and tells them ‘You’ll have to come through me’ after two people are shot dead in latest violence

  • Sister Ann Roza knelt before the officers to beg them to stop the violence
  • She previously confronted officers and said she would die to save others
  • Two more people were shot on Monday, bringing the coup’s death toll to 50

A nun in Myanmar has faced up to armed police by getting down on her knees to beg them to stop the violence on a day in which two more protesters were killed.

Sister Ann Roza was wearing white robes and a black habit as she knelt in front of the armed junta officers in Myitkyina.

She previously squared up to police on February 28 and said she was prepared to die to save others.

A nun in Myanmar has faced up to armed police by getting down on her knees to beg them to stop the violence on a day in which two more protesters were killed

The nun again confronted the officers again on Monday moments before they opened fire on protesters.  

She even told them ‘if you want to do this, you have to come through me.’ 

She told Sky News: ‘Around 12 noon the security forces were about to crack down, so again I was begging with them, I was kneeling down in front of them and I was pleading not to shoot and not to arrest the people.

‘The police were also kneeling and they told me they had to do it because this was to stop the protest. 

‘After that, tear gas was used and I was struggling to breathe and I was dizzy, and then I saw the man who had fallen down in the street and [he had been shot].’  

She previously squared up to police on February 28 (pictured) and said she was prepared to die to save others

Sister Roza even told the armed officers ‘if you want to do this, you have to come through me’

The nun said she couldn’t see who shot the protesters because of the tear gas but she hopes it was not the officers she had spoken to. 

The military government is continuing its attempts to stamp out any opposition to its February 1 coup.   

The Irrawaddy newspaper said Monday’s victims were shot in the head during anti-coup protests in Myitkyina in Kachin State. 

Graphic video on social media showed protesters in the street backing away from tear gas, responding with rocks, then fleeing after a fusillade of what seemed to be automatic gunfire.

Demonstrators hurriedly carried away a number of injured people, including one apparent fatality, a person who had sustained a severe head wound. A second body was seen later on a stretcher, his head covered with a cloth.

To date, the government’s violent crackdown has left more than 50 protesters dead. At least 18 people were fatally shot on Sunday last week and 38 on Wednesday, according to the UN Human Rights Office.

Anti-coup protesters discharge fire extinguishers to counter the impact of the tear gas fired by police during a demonstration in Naypyitaw on Monday

The military government is continuing its attempts to stamp out any opposition to its February 1 coup

Security forces also clamped down on anti-coup protesters elsewhere Monday, firing tear gas to break up a crowd of about 1,000 people who were demonstrating in the capital, Naypyitaw. 

The protesters deployed fire extinguishers to create a smoke screen as they fled from authorities.

Thousands of protesters who marched in Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, dispersed on their own amid fears that soldiers and police were planning to use force to break up their demonstration.

Meanwhile, an armed force from one of Myanmar’s ethnic groups deployed to protect anti-coup marchers in the wake of a brutal junta crackdown.

The unit from the Karen National Police Force (KNPF) arrived shortly after dawn to accompany about 2,000 protestors near Myitta in Tanintharyi Region in south-eastern Myanmar. 

They carried an assortment of firearms including assault rifles as they marched ahead of the column down dusty rural roads.

To date, the government’s violent crackdown has left more than 50 protesters dead

The KNPF are under the control of the Karen National Union (KNU), one of many ethnic organizations that have been fighting for greater autonomy from the central government for decades. The KNU employs both political and, through its armed wing, military means to achieve its aims.

Large-scale protests have occurred daily across many cities and towns in Myanmar since the country’s military seized power, and security forces have responded with ever greater use of lethal force and mass arrests.

Details of protests and actions by security forces have been reported extensively by news media and by individuals on Facebook and elsewhere. 

On Monday evening, the military government announced that the licenses of five local media outlets – Mizzima, DVB, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now and 7Day News – have been canceled.

Police officers search for hiding demonstrators during a protest in Yangon on Monday

Protesters hold homemade shields after tear gas was fired during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon

‘These media companies are no longer allowed to broadcast or write or give information by using any kind of media platform or using any media technology,’ it said on state broadcaster MRTV.

The coup and its violent aftermath have led foreign governments and international organizations to impose measures against Myanmar’s military leaders.

In the latest case, Australia suspended its defense cooperation with Myanmar and is redirecting humanitarian aid in the country because of the military takeover and detention of an Australian citizen.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Monday that diplomats and relatives had only been able to contact economic policy adviser Sean Turnell twice by phone since he was detained in early February. She described the access as ‘very limited consular support.’

Australia announced late Sunday that it had suspended a defense training program with Myanmar worth about 1.5 million Australian dollars ($1.2 million) over five years. The program had been restricted to noncombat areas such as English-language training.

A demonstrator runs away after being exposed to tear gas fired by the police amid the protests

Australian humanitarian aid will be directed away from the Myanmar government and government-related entities. Instead it will focus on the immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and poor in Myanmar, including the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities, Payne said.

On Sunday, police occupied hospitals and universities and reportedly arrested hundreds of people involved in protesting the military takeover.

In Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, gun shots from heavy weapons rang out for a second straight night in several neighborhoods after the start of an 8 p.m. curfew. The sounds of what apparently were stun grenades could also be heard on videos posted on social media.

The use of such weapons after protesters had left the streets appeared to be part of a strategy to strike fear in anyone who might think about defying the authorities. In a similar vein, many filmed incidents of police and soldiers show them savagely beating protesters they had taken into custody.

Some of the shooting was heard near hospitals, where reports said neighborhood residents sought to block the entry of police and soldiers.

In Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, gun shots from heavy weapons rang out for a second straight night in several neighborhoods

Protesters take part in an anti-coup protest as they hang women skirts to slow down the riot force on International Women’s Day

Security forces have often targeted medical personnel and facilities, including ambulances and their crews. Members of the medical profession launched the Civil Disobedience Movement, which is the nominal coordinator of the protests, frequently hailed on demonstrators’ signs by its initials CDM. Taking over hospitals would allow the authorities to easily arrest wounded people presumed to be protesters.

Meanwhile, a Canadian-Israeli lobbyist hired by Myanmar’s junta said the ruling generals want to get out of politics and shift the nation away from China.

Ari Ben-Menashe, who previously represented Sudan’s military leader and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday from the U.S. after returning from his second trip in the past month to Myanmar.

He said he was confident he can persuade the Biden administration to lift sanctions imposed on military leaders who directed the coup last month that deposed and detained Myanmar’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

He said the US and others in the West have reduced Myanmar’s political conflict to a black and white tale of military repression against pro-democracy activists and ignore the exclusion of millions of minority members from voting in last year’s election. 

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