Updated Feb 10, 2021 - World

UN calls out "use of disproportionate force" in Myanmar as police crack down

Photo of police using water cannons against a crowd of protesters in Myanmar

Police fire water cannons at protesters as they demonstrate against the military coup in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations on Tuesday stressed the organization's concern over "the use of disproportionate force" against anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar.

Why it matters: Hours after the UN statement, a woman was critically wounded after being shot in the head as police fired live rounds, rubber bullets and water cannon during another massive anti-coup rally in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw, per the BBC.

  • Tens of thousands of people have rallied in cities across the country and around the world to protest Myanmar's military regime, which seized power Feb. 1 and detained elected officials including leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

What they're saying: "According to reports from Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay and other cities, numerous demonstrators have been injured, some of them seriously, by security forces in connection with the current protests across the country," the UN said in Tuesday's statement.

  • "I call on the security forces to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression," said Ola Almgren, the UN's resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar.
  • The UN's Human Rights Council will meet Friday to discuss the crisis.

The state of play: Tuesday was the fifth consecutive day of mass anti-coup demonstrations.

  • Social media posts show riot police thrashing with batons, using water cannons and shooting rubber bullets into crowds, according to AP.
  • Police arrested more than two dozen protesters for defying a ban on large gatherings.
  • A doctor said one woman was unlikely to survive a gunshot wound to the head, while three others were treated for injuries from suspected rubber bullets in the capital Naypyidaw, per Reuters.
  • State television also reported injuries to police — its first acknowledgment of the nationwide protests.
    • The station aired a statement from the Ministry of Information, which warned that it would take legal action "to prevent acts that are violating state stability, public safety and the rule of law."

The big picture: This week's protests are the largest since 2007's "Saffron Revolution," which led to democratic reforms in the country.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest protest developments, including the shooting.

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