When the police and soldiers arrived in the middle of the night, they fired their guns into the air, threw stones through the windows and threatened to drive a car through the front door if no one opened it. U Shwe Win and his family were asleep. It was 2:30 a.m.
The police and soldiers had come to arrest Mr. Shwe Win’s son, Ko Win Htut Nyein. When they found him, they beat and handcuffed the 19-year-old before hauling him away. His offense, the family was told, was taking videos of the police at a protest in Mandalay the day before.
More than two weeks later, Mr. Shwe Win is still searching for his son. The authorities say they have no record of his arrest. “I felt so hopeless, like I had lost everything at that moment,” Mr. Shwe Win said. “I still don’t know where my son is. I don’t want him to die in their hands, and I worry that they will torture him.”
Since the Feb. 1 coup in Myanmar, millions of pro-democracy protesters have joined demonstrations against the military and participated in general strikes and a civil disobedience movement that have brought the economy to a virtual halt. Security forces have responded with increasing ruthlessness, shooting people in the streets and arbitrarily beating and arresting people.
security forces had killed more than 320 people and arrested or charged more than 2,900, according to a group tracking arrests and killings. The youngest victim, 6, was shot and killed on Wednesday while sitting on her father’s lap.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, hundreds who were unlawfully detained have disappeared. At least five have died in custody, and two appeared to have been tortured, the agency said.
terrorists” for their brutal methods when carrying out arrests and shooting randomly into crowds and homes.
In southern Myanmar, students from Myeik University gathered for a protest when soldiers and the police arrived. One student, Ma Thae Ei Phyu, 22, a philosophy major, was shot in the back of the neck with rubber bullets from a few feet away.
“I tried not to fall down because I know they have a habit of raping women and girls,” she said. “I didn’t want to get arrested.”
The soldiers rounded up the entire group of about 70 protesters and took them to a nearby air force base and beat them with sticks, plastic pipes, chains and belts, said a teacher, U Nay Lin, 30, who was among those arrested. The beating left huge red welts crisscrossing his back, a photo showed.
Mr. Nay Lin said a man with a tattoo of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi on his chest received the worst beating of all.
Ms. Thae Ei Phyu was taken to a hospital, where she received stitches for the deep holes in her neck caused by the rubber bullets. She and most of the others were eventually released without charges. Earlier this week, the junta also released more than 600 mostly young protesters who had been detained in Yangon, in a seeming effort to appease the movement.
“They tried to threaten us by arresting and torturing us like this, but we aren’t afraid to die,” she said. “It’s better to die than living under the junta.”
The Myanmar construction tycoon spoke in a faltering monotone, blinking fast and gulping occasionally for air. He said that over the past several years he had handed a total of $550,000 to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of Myanmar who was ousted in a military coup last month.
On two occasions, he had provided $100,000 and $150,000, the businessman said in a confessional statement broadcast on a military television network Wednesday night. In the English subtitles, the money had been handed over in a “black envelope.” In Burmese, the description had him presenting the money, meant to enhance his business ties, in a paper gift bag.
Either way, the envelope or gift bag would have been very large to hold that much cash.
The televised statement by U Maung Weik, a military crony who was once imprisoned for drug trafficking, appears to be the latest act in an intricately planned effort to impugn Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi.
Before elections in November, an online campaign amplified by pro-military groups raised a litany of unproven allegations against the civilian leader, who had shared power with the military for five years. Once her party won a landslide victory, military-linked forces stepped up their attacks on her, calling her corrupt and under the influence of foreigners.
a digital forensics investigation found.
Myanmar’s envoy to the United Nations, who gave an impassioned speech last month decrying the military’s seizure of power.
On Wednesday, the last of Myanmar’s major independent newspapers ceased publication. More than 30 journalists have been detained or pursued by authorities since the coup. The country, for decades under the military’s fist, is rapidly losing whatever democratic reforms had been introduced over the past few years.
various crimes that could see her imprisoned for years. The charges include esoteric crimes such as illegally importing foreign walkie-talkies and contravening coronavirus regulations.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has not yet been charged in relation to Mr. Maung Weik’s accusations that he gave her money to better his business relationship with the civilian government. The military television network said that investigators were currently looking into the case.
25 pounds of gold and about $600,000. Mr. Maung Weik’s accusations of money transfers are separate from this figure.
If charges are brought in any such cases, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, could face life imprisonment.
“I 100 percent believe that their accusations against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are groundless,” said U Aung Kyi Nyunt, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s popularity in Myanmar far outstrips that of the generals who have controlled the country for most of the past 60 years. She spent 15 years under house arrest and won the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to nonviolent resistance.
While her international reputation faded after she defended the military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims, her star appeal endured at home. The National League for Democracy’s electoral performance last year bested its 2015 landslide. The military has called fraud on the polls.
Mr. Khin Maung Zaw, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer, said that by silencing and imprisoning her the military regime risked burnishing her popularity further.
“They should not let Daw Aung San Suu Kyi change from a hero to a martyr,” he said. “If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi becomes a martyr, then the strength of the people will never be destroyed, and her martyrdom will become the people’s greatest strength.”
Until Thursday, Myaing, a small town in central Myanmar, was best known for its production of thanaka, a bark that is ground for use as a cooling cosmetic.
But in the late morning of March 11, the town, which can be traversed in 10 minutes, became synonymous with the brutality of the military that seized power last month. Myaing’s rain-slicked streets were mottled with blood as police officers shot into a cluster of unarmed civilians, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 20, according to witnesses and hospital officials.
U Myint Zaw Win was among the crowd that scattered with the bursts of live ammunition in the late morning, outside Myaing’s police station. When he looked back, he saw a body with half its head blown apart, on a street that he has walked all his life. He did not know whose body it was, but he said a mason and a bus driver were among the dead.
“They were shooting people like shooting birds,” Mr. Myint Zaw Win said of the police officers, some of whom he said he knows personally because Myaing is a small town where almost everyone knows each other.
70 people in Myanmar have been killed by security forces since the army staged its Feb. 1 coup, ousting a civilian leadership and returning the country to the nightmare of full military rule.
While the bulk of the deaths have been in big cities like Yangon and Mandalay, security forces have shot and killed people in at least 17 different towns across the country: Taungdwingyi, Myingyan, Salin, Kalay, Htee Lin and Pyapon, among others.
After analyzing more than 50 videos of such killings, Amnesty International concluded in a report published Thursday that the security forces were using battlefield weaponry on protesters. In some cases, commanders ordered extrajudicial killings, Amnesty International said, while in other instances bullets were sprayed indiscriminately.
worst attacks have been reserved for ethnic minorities, such as Rohingya Muslims whose persecution is being tried as genocide in international courts.
populace accustomed to massacres by the military. On Thursday, three people were shot dead in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay and Bago. Another person who had been shot on March 3 in the town of Myinchan succumbed to his injuries on Thursday as well.
Before the gunfire turned downtown Myaing into a battlefield on Thursday, residents had gathered daily, in hard hats and motorcycle helmets, to march against the military’s seizure of power last month. Its residents were just as determined as those in larger metropolises to speak out against the coup, during which dozens of elected politicians, including the civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, were detained.
On Thursday, a military spokesman accused Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi of having illicitly received 25 pounds of gold and about $600,000. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi heads the National League for Democracy, which won the last two elections by landslides. She has been charged with various other crimes that could see her imprisoned for years, including the obscure infraction of possessing foreign walkie-talkies without proper import licenses.
Two days after the putsch, Myaing’s residents began marching down its half-paved streets, demanding that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected officials be returned to office. They have carried on every day since. On Thursday, at least two youth from a local monastery were arrested and a crowd gathered at the police station to find out why. They sat in quiet protest.
There was no warning that live ammunition was to come, witnesses said. The police refused to comment.
Around the same time, in Yangon, the nation’s largest city, security forces fired on a crowd in North Dagon township, striking Ko Chit Min Thu, a 25-year-old collector of recycled materials, in the head. He died almost immediately, his relatives and other protesters said.
Worried that security forces would seize the body — as has happened in recent days and in Mandalay on Thursday — other protesters carried Mr. Chit Min Thu away from the shooting zone.
By early afternoon, his body was back at home with mourners gathered around. A bandage obscured his fatal head wound. His widow, Ma Aye Chan Myint, keened, their two-year-old son by her side. She is pregnant, in her first trimester.
“Why didn’t they just shoot at the legs, why did they shoot at the head?” she asked. There was no answer.
Ms. Aye Chan Myint reached out to touch the feet and face of her husband, who went to protest each day with hopes that a surge of civilian strength could somehow dislodge the military from power.
“You said I should be proud,” she told her husband’s body. “I’m proud of you, my love.”
The hundreds of thousands of women at the forefront of Myanmar’s protest movement are sending a powerful rebuke to the country’s military junta.
The protesters represent 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. Three young women were among the at least 38 people killed on Wednesday, the biggest one-day toll since the Feb. 1 coup.
There are no women in the military’s senior ranks, and soldiers have systematically raped women from ethnic minorities, according to Human Rights Watch. More broadly, though, women’s roles in politics, business and manufacturing in Myanmar are growing. In elections in November, about 20 percent of candidates for the National League for Democracy, the party of the ousted civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, were women.
Lives lost: Ma Kyal Sin, 18, was one of the protesters killed on Wednesday. “She is a hero for our country,” said a close friend.
Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to every adult in the Austrian district of Schwaz, which has been battered by a surge in infections, to determine how effective the inoculation is against the variant first found in South Africa.
The study in Austria is part of a much broader global effort to answer a crucial question as new variants emerge: Do vaccinations designed last year work against more recent mutations? If not, scientists will have to keep developing new versions of the inoculations.
Laboratory studies have shown that some vaccines that work well against earlier variants are less effective — though they still offer significant protection — against the variant known as B.1.351. It was found in South Africa in December and has become the dominant one there.
a three-day visit to Iraq today despite worries that the trip could become a superspreader event in a country where the coronavirus still rages.
The Vatican insists the trip will be safe, and the pope is planning a large Mass in a soccer stadium in the Kurdish town of Erbil. He will also very likely draw crowds to watch him pray in Qaraqosh, a town of Syriac Catholics, in the northern Nineveh Plains. Francis, 84, was vaccinated against Covid-19 in mid-January.
Such a visit has been the goal of many popes before him, who had to cancel plans because of security concerns in a nation ravaged by war. Francis accepted an invitation extended in July 2019.
Explainer: The Vatican believes the risks are outweighed by the chance to support one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. The ranks of Iraq’s Christians have dwindled to roughly a third of the 1.5 million who lived there during the final years of Saddam Hussein’s rule.
a sensational royal rupture to Oprah Winfrey, the British royal family and the self-exiled couple are maneuvering furiously before the interview is broadcast on television to try to shape the narrative.
Was Meghan the victim of a cold, unwelcoming family that cruelly isolated her after she married Harry? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her staff and triggered a breach between the family and one of its most beloved young princes?
Here’s what else is happening
Algeria-France relations: President Emmanuel Macron of France has taken a further step toward reconciliation by declaring that Ali Boumendjel, a leading Algerian lawyer and nationalist, did not die by suicide in 1957, as France had long claimed, but was tortured and killed by French soldiers.
Iceland: More than 18,000 earthquakes have shaken Iceland in just over a week, leading scientists to believe that a volcanic eruption could be imminent.
Tsunami warning: Thousands of people were evacuated in New Zealand on Friday after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck in the South Pacific, prompting officials to issue tsunami warnings for coastal areas.
Hong Kong: A senior Communist Party official announced that China’s national legislature planned to rewrite election rules in Hong Kong to ensure that the territory was run by patriots — people loyal to Beijing and the Communist Party. The congress will discuss a draft plan when it gathers for a weeklong session starting today.
A new report suggests that the bigger the meteor that hits the moon, the brighter the trail.
Gender gap: Under a proposed E.U. law, companies in Europe could be sanctioned if they fail to pay men and women the same salaries for doing the same work. Separately, a new report suggests mothers in the U.S. are going back to work — and still doing most of the parenting.
Drag kings: Once an underappreciated part of the drag world, drag kings have found more exposure during the pandemic, with pageants moving online, and amid the popularization of drag for wider audiences.
What we’re reading: This deep-dive New Yorker article on the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. It’s a chilling report on the near-future of the war-torn country.
Now, a break from the news
gets the eggplant Parmesan treatment — baked with marinara sauce, mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese until bubbling and browned.
Watch: The thoughtful documentary “Stray” uses the stray dogs of Istanbul to comment on the human condition.
Here are five tutorials for varying styles — each is a good workout.
Start your weekend with aplomb. At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
Coping at home
Melissa Kirsch spends her days thinking up activities for us to do at home in The Times’s At Home newsletter. She shared some of her own strategies for living well during an uncertain time.
Think about how I want to look back on this time. I find myself consciously trying to do things that will make me feel better about this experience in the future. That may mean reading more or cooking more or trying to be creative about the ways that I connect with other people — like writing letters or meeting people for walks in the cold. I don’t want this year to turn into a blur of Zoom chats and Netflix.
P.S. • We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about how close the end of the pandemic might be. • Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Fitting name for a hirsute guy (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here. • Our travel writer Tariro Mzezewajoinedthe “Travel With Hawkeye” podcast to discuss plans for a vaccine passport.