A 20-year-old woman has died after she was shot in the head last week as police opened fire during an anti-coup demonstration in Myanmar, making her the first known casualty since the protests in the country began.
Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing had been on life support since being taken to hospital on 9 February, after she was hit by what the doctors have a called a live bullet at a protest in the capital, Naypyidaw.
The hospital officials confirmed her death at 11am local time. “We will keep the [cause of death on] record and send a copy to the respective authorities. We will look for justice and move forward,” a hospital official told the AFP news agency.
Doctors said hospital staff faced immense pressure since Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing had been admitted to their intensive care unit. “Some have left the hospital already because of pressure,” a doctor was quoted as saying.
“I feel really sad and have nothing to say,” her brother, Ye Htut Aung, told Reuters.
The use of force to disperse the protests last week sparked outrage among protesters demonstrating the restoration of the democratically elected government. The government was ousted in a military coup on 1 February and politicians from the ruling NLD party, including leader Aung San Suu Kyi, were rounded up and arrested on spurious charges.
International human rights groups also rallied behind the protesters, criticising the Myanmar authorities for the “use of excessive and lethal force” against the people.
“Myanmar police shooting at a woman demonstrator whose back was turned is unconscionable as well as unlawful,” said Richard Weir, crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The police need to stop responding to peaceful protests by firing off guns and immediately investigate alleged wrongful use of force. Myanmar’s military junta should rescind its draconian orders on protests and end its crackdown.”
The military has imposed a state of emergency in the country for a year, contending that there was fraud in last year’s election which Ms Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide. The state election commission found no evidence to support the fraud claims.
Condemning the military action, US president Joe Biden demanded that coup be reversed and that Ms Suu Kyi along with other civilians be released.
Additional reporting from the wires