At least 18 people were killed across Myanmar yesterday as soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters in the deadliest day since the military seized power in a February 1 coup. More than 30 demonstrators were wounded, according to a United Nations tally, as security forces used live rounds together with rubber bullets and tear gas against crowds who were protesting against the illegitimate takeover.

“The violence used by Myanmar’s security forces against civilians who were expressing their right to assemble and demonstrate is abhorrent,” said Clare Hammond, Senior Myanmar Campaigner at Global Witness.

“The international community must take immediate action to support the people of Myanmar in their effort to restore civilian rule, and to hold the military accountable for its actions,” she added.

More than 1,100 people have been arbitrarily arrested, charged or sentenced over the past month according to reports, although the real figure may be higher. Journalists are increasingly being targeted, with at least eight arrested over the weekend and some still in custody, while a photojournalist was beaten by police in Yangon.

Meanwhile, the country’s elected civilian leaders remain under house arrest, with the sham trial of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi proceeding via video conference this morning, and the military filing two more spurious charges against her, including for incitement.

“The military’s continued violations of basic human rights and its refusal to release civilian leaders is unacceptable,” said Hammond.

“While we welcome the flurry of concerned statements by foreign governments, these need to be followed by stronger actions. This includes the imposition of targeted sanctions against the military and the expansion of sanctions to help prevent foreign currencies from flowing to the regime that enable it to loot state coffers and kill, maim and violate the rights of innocent civilians with impunity,” concluded Hammond.

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