Thousands of residents fled an industrial suburb of Myanmar’s commercial capital on Tuesday, after it was placed under martial law by the ruling junta following bloody anti-coup protests and the burning of Chinese factories over the weekend.
“Here is like a war zone, they are shooting everywhere,” a labour organiser in the Hlaing Tharyar township, a poor city district, that is home to many migrants, told Reuters.
Residents fled on Tuesday carrying their belongings on motorbikes and tuk-tuks after the army placed it and five other townships in Yangon under martial law, Frontier Myanmar reported.
Two doctors told Reuters there were still wounded people in need of medical attention in the area, but the army had sealed approach roads.
Matthew Smith, head of the Fortify Rights group, said on Twitter: “We’re told possibly dozens more killed in #HlaingTharYar today. Emergency vehicles are unable to access the area due to roadblocks.”
On Sunday, more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces in Hlaing Tharyar as Chinese-linked factories were set ablaze.
The junta, meanwhile, charged the international envoy of the ousted government with treason for encouraging a civil disobedience campaign and calling for sanctions. The charges carry a possible death sentence. Doctor Sasa – who is not in the country – said he was proud to have been charged.
“These generals have committed acts of treason every day. Taking what they want for themselves, denying the people their rights and oppressing those that stand in their way,” he said in a statement.
More than 180 protesters have been killed as security forces try to crush waves of demonstrations, according to the activist group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Earlier, China Global Television Network, an English-language international Chinese channel, had warned against further attacks on Chinese-owned businesses after more than 30 factories in Hlaing Tharyaran were torched on Sunday.
“China will not allow its interests to be exposed to further aggression. If the authorities cannot deliver and the chaos continues to spread, China might be forced into taking more drastic action to protect its interests,” said CGTN, which is linked to the Chinese Communist Party.
When asked what drastic action might mean, China’s mission to the United Nations in New York referred Reuters to previous Chinese statements saying Myanmar authorities must take measures to protect Chinese nationals and businesses.