Mass arrests at the White Coats Protest
28 Feb 2023
Mass detentions following the February 2021 coup
Key Event Details
Location of Incident: Yankin township (ရန်ကင်းမြို့နယ်), Yangon (ရန်ကုန်မြို့) [16.832556, 96.167556].
Date/Time of Incident: 28 February 2021
Alleged Perpetrator(s) and/or Involvement:
Myanmar Police Force
Lon Htein Battalion 1
Lon Htein Battalion 5
Summary of Investigation:
This report focuses on the White Coats Protest in Yankin, Yangon on 28 February, where several thousand doctors, nurses and students from Yangon’s universities had gathered, and over 100 protestors were detained.
Myanmar Witness has fully verified over 30 videos and images from this event, including drone footage and Facebook live streams. All content included or referenced within this report is fully verified, unless otherwise stated.
Using these videos and images, Myanmar Witness has created a detailed reconstruction of the events which took place between 0820 and 0905 on 28 February 2021.
The Myanmar Police can be seen using sound grenades and tear gas against the protestors.
The police are also seen loading protestors into police trucks.
Following the 1 February 2021 Coup, Myanmar’s State Administration Council (SAC) stripped away due process and fair trial rights to detain thousands of protestors, activists and human rights defenders. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that the vast majority of these deprivations of liberty were carried out without respect for the rule of law or in accordance with international human rights standards, therefore constituting arbitrary and unlawful detention.
This series of case studies documents four separate incidents in Yankin, Tamwe, North Okkalapa and Lanmadaw in late February and early March 2021. The first three reports cover mass detentions of protestors, while the fourth examines a case of mass detention of community members, following an incident involving alleged undercover military officers in the same area.
Over 100 individuals were arrested at each of the three protests investigated by Myanmar Witness. In all three cases, there is no evidence to indicate that the protests were anything but peaceful. Myanmar Witness has analysed, verified and triangulated multiple pieces of footage to develop a detailed timeline and map of events leading up to and including the detention of the protestors. Sound grenades, teargas and live ammunition was used on the protestors.
This report looks at the White Coats Protest in Yankin, Yangon on 28 February 2021, where several thousand doctors, nurses and students from Yangon’s universities had gathered, and over 100 protestors were detained. It provides a detailed reconstruction of events by piecing together over 30 pieces of open source user-generated content (UGC) which were uploaded to social media.
These examples of mass detentions are being released to mark two years passing since their occurrence; however, they are by no means exhaustive. Myanmar Witness continues to monitor the deprivation of civilian liberties.
The White Coats Protest
On the morning of 28 February 2021, a ‘White Coats’ protest of several thousand doctors, nurses and students from Yangon’s universities gathered in Yankin township. As the march was setting off, police charged the rear of the protest.
Figure: Protest Area, Aung Zaya Road, Yankin Township [16.833472, 96.172028]. The red line shows the area where the crackdown occurred.
Footage verified by Myanmar Witness shows over 100 protestors being detained. The Irrawaddy reported that over 200 people were detained on this one day alone.
Figure: Capture (02:01) from the drone footage shows police advancing on the yellow-vested stewards (shown by the red rectangle). The column of protestors can be seen in the narrow road north alongside the housing complex (blue arrow).
Myanmar Witness has fully verified over 30 videos and images from multiple angles, including drone footage and Facebook live streams, allowing for an accurate reconstruction of the events which took place between 0820 and 0905. All material is fully verified unless otherwise stated.
By analysing multiple verified videos posted to social media, Myanmar Witness was able to reconstruct the protest.
Figure: Overview of events in Yankin on 28 February, 2021. Location: 16.833472, 96.172028.
To see a full, chronological breakdown of events which occurred at the White Coats protest on 28 February 2021 in Yangon, download the PDF.