The acting leader of Myanmar’s parallel civilian government has said the people “must win the uprising” against the junta as security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Yangon and at least five people were killed as protests continued for a sixth week.
Mahn Win Khaing Than, who is in hiding along with most senior officials from the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which was ousted in the 1 February coup, addressed the public via Facebook, saying: “This is the darkest moment of the nation and the moment that the dawn is close. The federal democracy union … is waiting for us in the near future if we move forward unitedly with invincibility,” he said, adding: “We must win the uprising.”
Video from Yangon showed protesters holding handmade shields and wearing helmets as they confronted security forces in the Hlaingthaya district of the city.
The Irrawaddy media group said three people were killed on Sunday when police opened fire and at least two people were killed elsewhere in the country – a young man in the town of Bago, near Yangon, and a protester in the town of Hpakant, in the jade mining area in the north-east.
Mahn Win Khaing Than was appointed as the NLD’s acting leader when senior members of the party, including Aung San Suu Kyi, were arrested by the military. He and a group of elected MPs formed a shadow “parliament” called the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) – using the Burmese word for the country’s governing bloc – to denounce the military regime.
In his address – his first appearance in his CRPH leadership position – he said the civilian government would “attempt to legislate the required laws so that the people have the right to defend themselves”.
The junta has declared the CRPH illegal and said anyone involved with it could be charged with treason, which carries the death penalty.
Protests against the military continued on Sunday, with people in Mandalay carrying signs saying: “We don’t accept the military coup.”
Anti-coup protesters in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Sunday. Photograph: AP
More than 80 people had been killed as of Saturday in widespread demonstrations against the military’s seizure of power, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group said. More than 2,100 people had been arrested, it said.
At least 13 people were killed on Saturday, one of the bloodiest days since the coup, witnesses and domestic media said.
Five people were shot dead and several injured when police opened fire on a sit-in protest in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-biggest city, witnesses told Reuters. Two people were killed in the central town of Pyay and two died in Yangon.
“They are acting like they are in a war zone, with unarmed people,” said the Mandalay-based activist Myat Thu. He said the dead included a 13-year-old child.
People give the three-fingered salute as they watch anti-coup protesters march past in Mandalay on Sunday. Photograph: AP
Si Thu Tun, a protester, said he saw two people shot, including a Buddhist monk. “One of them was hit in the pubic bone, another was shot to death terribly,” he said.
A truck driver in Chauk, a town in the central Magwe region, died after being shot in the chest by police, a family friend said.
Saturday’s protests erupted after posters spread on social media urging people to mark the death anniversary of Phone Maw, who was shot and killed by security forces in 1988 at what was then known as the Rangoon Institute of Technology campus.
His shooting and that of another student who died a few weeks later prompted widespread protests against the military government known as the 8-8-88 campaign, because it peaked in August that year. An estimated 3,000 people were killed when the army crushed the uprising.
Aung San Suu Kyi emerged as a democracy icon during the movement and was kept under house arrest for nearly two decades. She was released in 2010 as the military began democratic reforms. Her NLD party won elections in 2015 and again in November last year.
Last month, the generals overthrew her government and detained Aung San Suu Kyi and many of her cabinet colleagues, claiming fraud in the November elections.
Reuters and Agence France- Presse contributed to this report