At least 745 people have been killed in a military crackdown against anti-coup protesters in Myanmar, according to the latest figures released by a rights watchdog.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a daily briefing late Friday that 3,371 people are in detention, 79 have been convicted and arrest warrants have been issued for at least 1.118 others.
The violence continued despite Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) leaders gathering on Saturday in Jakarta to discuss the evolving situation.
Myanmar junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing is expected to attend.
The rights group claimed the junta is “brutally assaulting anyone who stands against the junta. Women are not spared against the brutality.”
“Females are being systematically tortured, [physically and mentally] sexually assaulted with intent,” it said.
The monitoring group reported that a 17-year-old girl, who was released from Shwe Pyi Thar interrogation center in Sanchaung Township, Yangon, was “verbally assaulted and touched inappropriately” on her shoulder then threatened with a gun by “so-called police from number 24 police station.”
Meanwhile, local media reported anti-coup protesters returned to the streets of downtown Yangon on Friday after a weeks-long absence following a military-led massacre that killed hundreds nationwide.
The rally that was led by activists from the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) and youth from several Yangon townships marched along Anawrahta road and was not met with any violence by police or soldiers, according to the Myanmar Now news agency.
“What do we want? Democracy!” protesters shouted.
Amid indiscriminate killing aimed at crushing the uprising, the mass rallies that began in the city in February were reduced to deadly cat and mouse games between hard-core protesters and regime forces.
The march on Friday was aimed at breathing life into street protests, said one organizer.
“We marched in the heart of the city so that protests in the urban areas regain momentum,” said the organizer, who asked not to be named for security reasons.
Marchers demanded the abolishment of the “fascist” military and the establishment of a federal union.
“The military will not retreat because it doesn’t want to abandon power. The crackdowns will happen again in the most brutal ways,” the organizer added.
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