“Mya” is the first victim of military repression in Burma. Wounded on February 9, the 20-year-old protester died on Friday. The young woman was shot in the head during a demonstration against the coup in Naypyidaw, the administrative capital of Burma.
Violence erupted when security forces began firing rubber bullets at protesters. Doctors at the city hospital later said that at least two people were seriously injured by live ammunition, including the young woman, who had come to demonstrate with her sisters. Mya’s family is a supporter of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.
The Information Unit of True News, a Burmese army publication, had claimed that security forces were equipped with only non-lethal weapons on the day Mya was shot in the head. But the images released, particularly by AFP, “contradict these claims,” according to the NGO Amnesty International, which considers that “The Naypyidaw police have blood on their hands.”
“Pray for our martyrdom”
Clerk in a grocery store, Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, quickly became an icon for protesters demanding the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the end of the dictatorship and the repeal of the 2008 constitution, too favorable to the army.
A giant banner was unfolded the day after the event on a bridge in Yangon, the economic capital, depicting the unconscious young woman. Anger was also strong on social networks: “You are our heroine”, “Pray for our martyrdom”, “This act of hatred must be punished”, we could read on Facebook.
The Burmese army seized power on February 1 and arrested civilian head of government Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Burmese have taken to the streets across the country, including in Naypyidaw, built by the junta in the middle of the jungle. It was there, in the heart of military power, that Mya was assassinated a few days after her twentieth birthday.