Molotov cocktails were used by Burmese protesters

Molotov cocktails were used by Burmese protesters
After repeated use of deadly force by security forces, demonstrators fired a rare attack on security forces, hurling petrol bombs and slingshots at them.

The protracted conflict between the junta and the protesters has been a disaster for the Burmese people. Since Feb. 1, at least 149 people in Myanmar have been “arbitrarily deprived of their lives” as a result of the military’s illegal use of deadly force against peaceful protesters, according to the United Nations, including at least 11 people killed on March 15 and 57 more over the weekend.

In Yangon, the country’s largest city, roadblocks made of sandbags, wood, tires or concrete blocks now appear every few dozen meters, according to Myanmar’s Golden Phoenix News. “It looks exactly like what I saw on TV after the war in Syria,” said one resident.

Molotov cocktails were used by Burmese protesters
Demonstrators used Molotov cocktails and slingshots against security forces

As security forces have used violence with increasing frequency, demonstrators have taken a more aggressive approach to self-defense — setting tires on fire as barricades and fighting back when possible, the Associated Press said.

On March 17th, after the security forces opened fire first, demonstrators initially fled, but then crawled back behind sandbag barricades to hide, some throwing Molotov cocktails while others fired back with slingshots, though the security forces were too far away to hit. In the evening, smoke and fire filled the streets of Yangon and Gali as security forces burned down barricades.

Protesters have also invented other forms of protest, such as using placards as stand-ins or painting the words “Spring Revolution” on coconut shells.

As Foreign Policy magazine described on March 10, such “innovation” has long been on the way. Demonstrators began using barricades made of barbed wire, metal, tires and other materials to try to slow down security forces, and threw firecrackers at them to mimic the sound of live ammunition to drive them away.

The composition of the protesters has also changed, from a mix of all ages at first to mostly young people in their 20s and 30s, armed with metal shields, helmets, gas masks and, occasionally, bulletproof vests.

For the most part, however, the protests in Myanmar have been largely peaceful. Most protesters usually try to delay the security forces’ movement, then seek shelter in nearby homes when they arrive, and the public is happy to do so, only to regroup when the security forces leave.

But the report also said there was growing debate among the protesters about whether to fight back.

‘Just like what you see on TV in Syria’

The lasting political unrest has caused a series of aftershocks to the normal life of the Burmese people. Rice prices in urban areas around the main cities of Rangoon and Mandalay have risen by 4 percent since the last week of February, and by 20-35 percent in places such as Bammo and Tau in Kachin State, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said March 16.