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.