Thousands line funeral procession route of protester killed in Myanmar

Young grocery store worker, who was shot during rally against coup, is first demonstrator killed

NAYPYITAW: A sombre Buddhist funeral song rung out in Myanmar's capital as the body of a young woman, struck down during a rally against this month's military coup, was carried to a ceremony marking the end of her short life.

Thousands lined the route of the procession to pay tribute to Miss Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who was shot in the head two days before her 20th birthday at a protest demanding the release of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The grocery store worker was on life support for 10 days but died on Friday, making her the first protester killed.

An honour guard linked hands and formed a circle around her coffin as her family and others paid their respects.

"Please don't go," one older relative whispered as she gazed down at the open casket.

Mourners gathered outside the funeral hall held up the three-finger salute that has been adopted as a gesture of resistance to military rule.

Sadly she is not the only one killed in the protests. Another two people were shot dead on Saturday when police opened fire with live rounds and rubber bullets in Mandalay.

The trouble began with confrontations between the security forces and striking shipyard workers. Video clips on social media showed security forces firing at protesters and witnesses said they found the spent cartridges of live rounds.

Despite the threat of violence, huge crowds marched in Myanmar yesterday to denounce the Feb 1 military coup.

The military has been unable to quell the demonstrations and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes against the coup, even with a promise of new elections and stern warnings.

Tens of thousands of people massed peacefully in the second city of Mandalay yesterday.

"They aimed at the heads of unarmed civilians. They aimed at our future," a young protester told the crowd.

In Yangon, thousands of mostly young people gathered at different sites to chant slogans and sing.

"Us young people have our dreams but this military coup has created so many obstacles," said protester Ko Pay in Yangon. "That is why we come out to the front of the protests."

In Myitkyina in the north, people laid flowers for the dead protesters. Big crowds marched in the central towns of Monywa and Bagan, in Dawei and Myeik in the south, Myawaddy in the east and Lashio in the north-east, posted pictures showed. - AFP, REUTERS