Soldiers and police officers shot and killed at least 18 people in Myanmar over the weekend, as they pressed their campaign of attrition against protesters who have defied them in cities and towns across the country.
Despite weeks of killings by the security forces, a nationwide civil-disobedience movement — which has paralyzed much of the economy as well as the government’s operations — shows no sign of waning, a month and a half after the Feb. 1 military coup that ousted the civilian leadership.
“The world is upside down in Myanmar,” said U Tin Tun, who said he saw military personnel in the city of Mandalay commandeer an ambulance and drive off with a woman who had been shot in the head by a fellow soldier.
“We must fight until we win,” said Mr. Tin Tun, 46. “The regime must step down. There is no place for any dictator here in Myanmar.”
known as the Tatmadaw, has run the country for most of the past 60 years. For the majority of that time, it has battled rebel armies made up of members of ethnic minorities, who inhabit areas rich in jade, timber and other resources.
the Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, it continued to operate without civilian oversight. In 2017, it waged an internationally condemned campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Muslim Rohingya in western Myanmar, killing thousands and forcing more than 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
Now, the military has brought similar tactics — and some of the same military units — to cities and towns around the country. Soldiers and police officers, who are also under the authority of the army’s top commander, have fired into homes and crowds of protesters, beaten demonstrators in the streets and arrested many hundreds of people, some whom were later tortured, victims and witnesses have said.
the secretary of homeland security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, using Myanmar’s former name. He said its citizens would be eligible to stay in the United States for 18 months.
The weekend’s wave of killings began just before midnight on Friday, when a crowd of people gathered outside a police station in Yangon seeking the release of three brothers who had been seized from their home. The police opened fire, killing two men, relatives of the victims said.
On Saturday, the killing continued with four more victims in Yangon, three in the town of Pyay and one in the town of Chauk. Both towns sit on the Irrawaddy River north of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.
In Mandalay, the second-largest city, where the first major street protests against the coup were held on Feb. 4, four protesters were shot and killed by the security forces on Saturday, according to doctors who tried to treat the victims. A fifth death was confirmed by a relative of the victim.
On Sunday, three protesters in Yangon were shot and killed, according to the clinic where their bodies were taken.
In Mandalay on Saturday, after police officers began shooting at protesters, about two dozen students who had been demonstrating fled and took refuge in the nearby home of Daw Pyone, 49.
Police officers and soldiers followed them there and confronted Ms. Pyone, said her daughter, Ma Tin Nilar San, who hid with the students under blankets and mosquito nets. When Ms. Pyone refused to give them up, Ms. Tin Nilar San said, a soldier shot her in the head from a few feet away.
“I was crying in hiding and I was shaking because I was so afraid,” said Ms. Tin Nilar San, 28. “My mother gave birth to me by risking her life. But I could not save my mom’s life when she was in need and calling my name.”
The soldiers began firing randomly inside the house, and most of the students came out of hiding, she said. Eighteen were arrested.
After the police and soldiers left, Ms. Tin Nilar San said she and the remaining students carried her mother, who was still alive, to a nearby Buddhist monastery, where volunteer medics were treating wounded protesters.
They put her in an ambulance. But before it could be driven away, about 20 soldiers and police officers arrived, said Mr. Tin Tun, who was coordinating emergency care at the monastery. They broke down the door of the monastery, and everyone fled or hid, he said.
Mr. Tin Tun said he found a place to hide near the ambulance. He said he heard the soldiers say that Ms. Pyone appeared to have died, and that they should take her to a cemetery to be cremated.
The soldiers then drove off in the ambulance, he said. Ms. Pyone has not been seen since. Family members, hoping she might have survived, have looked for her at a prison and at police and military hospitals, without success.
“I cannot sleep, I cannot eat anything,” Ms. Tin Nilar San said. “I want my mother back. She is such a nice woman with a kind heart. She risked her life to save all the students hiding in our house.”
Ma Kyal Sin loved taekwondo, spicy food and a good red lipstick. She adopted the English name Angel, and her father hugged her goodbye when she went out on the streets of Mandalay, in central Myanmar, to join the crowds peacefully protesting the recent seizure of power by the military.
The black T-shirt that Ms. Kyal Sin wore to the protest on Wednesday carried a simple message: “Everything will be OK.”
In the afternoon, Ms. Kyal Sin, 18, was shot in the head by the security forces, who killed at least 30 people nationwide in the single bloodiest day since the Feb. 1 coup, according to the United Nations.
electrified hundreds of cities across Myanmar. “By participating in the revolution, our generation of young women shows that we are no less brave than men.”
ousted a female civilian leader and reimposed a patriarchal order that has suppressed women for half a century.
By the hundreds of thousands, the women have gathered for daily marches, representing striking unions of teachers, garment workers and medical workers — all sectors dominated by women. The youngest are often on the front lines, where the security forces appear to have singled them out. Two young women were shot in the head on Wednesday and another near the heart, three bullets ending their lives.
the brutality of a military accustomed to killing its most innocent people. At least three children have been gunned down over the past month, and the first death of the military’s post-coup crackdown was a 20-year-old woman shot in the head on Feb. 9.
said Thursday. “It is utterly abhorrent that security forces are firing live ammunition against peaceful protesters across the country.”
In the weeks since the protests began, groups of female medical volunteers have patrolled the streets, tending to the wounded and dying. Women have added spine to a civil disobedience movement that is crippling the functioning of the state. And they have flouted gender stereotypes in a country where tradition holds that garments covering the lower half of the bodies of the two sexes should not be washed together, lest the female spirit act as a contaminant.
With defiant creativity, people have strung up clotheslines of women’s sarongs, called htamein, to protect protest zones, knowing that some men are loath to walk under them. Others have affixed images of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief who orchestrated the coup, to the hanging htamein, an affront to his virility.
The Tatmadaw, as the military is known, is deeply conservative, opining in official communications about the importance of modest dress for proper ladies.
There are no women in the Tatmadaw’s senior ranks, and its soldiers have systematically committed gang rape against women from ethnic minorities, according to investigations by the United Nations. In the generals’ worldview, women are often considered weak and impure. Traditional religious hierarchies in this predominantly Buddhist nation also place women at the feet of men.
The prejudices of the military and the monastery are not necessarily shared by Myanmar’s broader society. Women are educated and integral to the economy, particularly in business, manufacturing and the civil service. Increasingly, women have found their political voice. In elections last November, about 20 percent of candidates for the National League for Democracy, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, were women.
The party won in a landslide, trouncing the military-linked and far more male-dominated Union Solidarity and Development Party. The Tatmadaw has dismissed the results as fraudulent.
As the military began devolving some power over the past decade, Myanmar experienced one of the most profound and rapid societal changes in the world. A country that had been cut off from the world by the generals, who first seized power in a 1962 coup, went on Facebook and discovered memes, emojis and global conversations about gender politics.
armed conflict with the military.
When they led their rally on Feb. 6, the two women marched in shirts associated with the Karen ethnic group, whose villages have been overrun by Tatmadaw troops in recent days. Ms. Esther Ze Naw is from another minority, the Kachin, and as a 17-year-old she spent time in camps for the tens of thousands of civilians who were uprooted by Tatmadaw offensives. Military jets roared overhead, raining artillery on women and children, she recalled.
“That was the time I committed myself to working toward abolishing the military junta,” she said. “Minorities know what it feels like, where discrimination leads. And as a woman, we are still considered as a second sex.”
“That must be one of the reasons why women activists seem more committed to rights issues,” she added.
While the National League for Democracy is led by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, its top ranks are dominated by men. And like the Tatmadaw, the party’s highest echelons have tended to be reserved for members of the country’s ethnic Bamar majority.
On the streets of Myanmar, even as the security forces continue to fire at unarmed protesters, the makeup of the movement has been far more diverse. There are Muslim students, Catholic nuns, Buddhist monks, drag queens and a legion of young women.
“Gen Z are a fearless generation,” said Honey Aung, whose younger sister, Kyawt Nandar Aung, was killed by a bullet to the head on Wednesday in the city of Monywa. “My sister joined the protests every day. She hated dictatorship.”
In a speech that ran in a state propaganda publication earlier this week, General Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief, sniffed at the impropriety of the protesters, with their “indecent clothes contrary to Myanmar culture.” His definition is commonly considered to include women wearing trousers.
Moments before she was shot dead, Ms. Kyal Sin, dressed in sneakers and torn jeans, rallied her fellow peaceful protesters.
As they staggered from the tear gas fired by security forces on Wednesday, Ms. Kyal Sin dispensed water to cleanse their eyes. “We are not going to run,” she yelled, in a video recorded by another protester. “Our people’s blood should not reach the ground.”
“She is the bravest girl I have ever seen in my life,” said Ko Lu Maw, who photographed some of the final images of Ms. Kyal Sin, in an alert, proud pose amid a crowd of prostrate protesters.
Under her T-shirt, Ms. Kyal Sin wore a star-shaped pendant because her name means “pure star” in Burmese.
“She would say, ‘if you see a star, remember, that’s me,’” said Ms. Cho Nwe Oo, her friend. “I will always remember her proudly.”