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Myanmar street protests intensify as military cracks down

Myanmar mourns: A funeral procession for Thet Naing Win, one of two people shot dead when police in Mandalay tried to disperse a crowd during protests against the military coup. Photo: CNS

Catholic nuns, seminarians and laypeople have marched on the streets to pray for peace as pro-democracy protests intensify in Myanmar three weeks after the February 1 coup.

Nearly 1,000 Catholics, mostly young people, joined weekend marches on the streets of the old capital, Yangon.

In Myanmar’s second largest city, Mandalay, two people including a teenager were killed and more than 20 injured during a violent crackdown by security forces on protesters on February 20.

A funeral was held for one of the dead, Thet Naing Win, yesterday

The latest bloody crackdown has sparked strong condemnation from the United Nations, the US, Britain and the European Union.

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has called on the faithful to pray and fast for reconciliation.

Last week nuns, priests and laypeople also took to the streets in Kayah state, a Catholic stronghold in northeastern Myanmar, to pray for peace.

Christians from other denominations joined Catholics on the streets in several cities in Kachin and Chin states to pray for peace.

Nuns have provided food and drinks to protesters in Yangon while some have organized prayer meetings at their convents.

International outcry over the military coup is growing.

The ABC has reported Australia’s second-most senior military officer has urged a top member of Myanmar’s military junta to restore democracy and free detained Australian academic Sean Turnell.

Vice-Chief of the Australian Defence Force David Johnston delivered the message in a phone call on Monday with Vice-Senior General Soe Win.

It’s the first time that Australia has managed to gain access to the upper echelons of Myanmar’s new military government since the military takeover.

In a statement reported by the ABC, a Defence spokesperson said Vice-Admiral Johnston “expressed Australia’s deep concern at the situation in Myanmar and reiterated Australia’s call for the immediate release of Professor Sean Turnell”.

Professor Turnell worked as an adviser to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi before being arrested just days after she and dozens of other civilian leaders were arrested.

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