By Wa Lone, Poppy McPherson, Aditi Bhandari and Shoon Naing
(Reuters) – Nearly seven months after Myanmar’s army seized power, security forces have killed more than 1,000 people in a bid to crush resistance, according to Reuters research and data from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activist group that has tracked arrests and deaths.
The casualties of Myanmar’s crackdown after the Feb. 1 coup span all ages, social classes, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
They include students and poets, nurses and bank staff, politicians and construction workers. Many of the dead civilians were killed at protests. Others were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Almost daily, the association’s death tally rises.
In a visual history of the crackdown https://tmsnrt.rs/2WumK1V, Reuters tells the stories of seven people who died.
Myanmar’s army says the AAPP is biased and that far fewer people have been killed than it has recorded. The junta now ruling the country rejects accusations by rights groups that it is responsible for atrocities that the United Nations has said could amount to crimes against humanity.
In mid-April, the military acknowledged the death of 248 protesters but said they had initiated violence. The junta has said dozens of members of the security forces have been killed. A spokesman for the junta did not respond to requests for comment for this report.
Despite the risks, protests continue daily in Myanmar. Lately, protesters have tended to join in flash mob-style demonstrations rather than mass gatherings.
Hundreds of young people have also joined ethnic armed groups fighting the junta or have formed guerrilla outfits of their own, including a new group called the People’s Defence Force, which is backed by an underground government set up to rival the junta.
These groups say they have killed hundreds of members of the security forces, who have carried out raids on their suspected hideouts. The junta has described these organizations as terrorist groups and has said it will stop them from harming state security.
Many relatives and friends of those who have died say the killings have hardened their determination to resist the junta.
(Reporting by Wa Lone, Aditi Bhandari, Shoon Naing and Poppy McPherson; Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Karishma Singh)