Myanmar charging families $85 to retrieve bodies of relatives killed in military crackdown

The Myanmar military is charging $85 to retrieve the bodies of relatives killed by security forces in a bloody crackdown on Friday, activists reported.

At least 82 people were killed Friday in Bago, 90 kilometers northeast of Yangon, after the city was “raided” by the military’s security forces, said advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The military is charging families 120,000 Myanmar kyat ($85) to retrieve the bodies of relatives who died Friday, according to a Facebook post from the Bago University Students’ Union.

Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service matched the reporting from the Bago University Students’ Union.

More than 700 people have died since the military overthrew Myanmar’s elected government in a February 1 coup, according to AAPP. Since then, junta security forces made up of police, soldiers and elite counter-insurgency troops have embarked on a systematic crackdown against unarmed and peaceful protesters, detaining around 3,000 people and forcing activists into hiding.

Myanmar’s military claimed its forces were assailed by protesters in Bago Friday, according to state-run media.

“Security forces were attacked by groups of rioters while removing road barriers solidified by the rioters on the streets in Bago yesterday,” Global New Light of Myanmar reported, adding: “rioters used handmade guns, fire bottles, arrows, handmade shields and grenades to attack the security forces.”

The newspaper said one protester died during Friday’s incident. “Evidence of confiscated grenades and ammunition indicates small arms were used,” the report added.

The United States Embassy in Myanmar called for an end to the violence on Sunday.

“We mourn the senseless loss of life in Bago and around the country where regime forces have reportedly used weapons of war against civilians,” the embassy said in a post on its official Twitter account.

“The regime has the ability to resolve the crisis and needs to start by ending violence and attacks,” it added.

NGO Human Rights Watch has urged the European Union to “fully implement” sanctions on the military and “urgently adopt additional sanctions.”

“The people of Myanmar find themselves once against facing the military’s bullets, but they courageously continue their struggle, unrelenting,” the letter said. “EU condemnation and efforts to advance accountability and justice for grave, widespread, and systematic abuses by the military junta are welcome and important, yet words and partial steps are not enough.”