JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Police and soldiers in Myanmar launched violent attacks on peaceful protesters assembled in several major cities Sunday and then launched raids on residential areas and university campuses. Law students reporting for JURIST in Mandalay said that over 100 people were arrested in that city alone after authorities used tear gas, flash-bangs and smoke bombs to disperse university students who had been holding sit-down strikes in the street to support democracy and human rights and oppose the ruling military junta. In both Mandalay and Yangon, groups of soldiers prowled residential neighborhoods after dark and gunshots were heard in townships across the city; in Mandalay, there was speculation that similar military incursions were retribution for many residents having opened their home to fleeing students after their rallies were attacked.
Also on Sunday, soldiers and riot police used force to roll into the campus of Mandalay Technical University. Troops also deployed at the University of Yangon late Saturday night. Across Myanmar there were reports of isolated killings of civilians and continued arrests of prominent opponents of the February 1 military coup that deposed the civilian government effectively led by Aung San Su Kyi. AARP Burma, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, said Sunday that the number of persons arrested, charged, or sentenced since February 1 stood at 1790, with 1472 actively persecuted.
Unions in Myanmar are planning a series of general strikes beginning Monday that they hope will have a fundamental economic impact and help convince the military to return to barracks. Discussions about the deteriorating situation in Myanmar are also expected to continue at the UN Security Council.