Burmese security forces killed more than 90 people on Saturday, including a child, according to media and witnesses. Protesters opposing the February 1 military coup took to the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other cities, defying warnings that they could be hit “on the head and back” while the military celebrated Armed Forces Day.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” said Dr Sasa, spokesperson for CRPH, a group of deposed members of Congress, in an online forum. The deaths on Saturday, one of the bloodiest days since the coup, brought the number of civilians killed in the country to nearly 400.
According to local media, a five-year-old boy was among 29 killed in Mandalay, while in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, 24 people were killed, according to a Reuters news agency witness. The local Myanmar Now portal reports that in total at least 91 people have been killed until early afternoon local time.
“They kill us like birds or chickens, even at home,” said Thu Ya Zaw, in Myingyan town, where at least two protesters were killed. “We will continue to protest despite the crackdown. We must fight until the junta falls.”
The armed forces seized power over allegations of fraud – so far without evidence – in the November elections, in which the pro-military party suffered a crushing defeat for the National League for Democracy, led by the civilian Aung San Suu Kyi. After leading a parade in the capital Naypyitaw to mark Armed Forces Day, General Min Aung Hlaing, head of the junta that controls the country, reiterated his promises to hold elections. Again, he did not say when the election would be promoted.
“The army seeks to join forces with the whole nation to guarantee democracy,” the general said in a live broadcast on state television, adding that the authorities want to protect the population and restore peace to the country. . So far, both statements have no basis in reality. “Violent acts that affect stability and security to meet demands are inappropriate,” he added.
In a warning broadcast Friday evening (26), Myanmar state television said the protesters were “in great danger of being hit on the head and back”. The alert did not specifically state that security forces had been ordered to shoot to kill, and the military junta has previously hinted that fatal shots were coming from the crowd.
Yet the warning expressed the security forces’ determination to avoid disruption on Armed Forces Day, which celebrates the start of resistance to the Japanese occupation in 1945, orchestrated by the father of Suu Kyi, founder of the army of the country.
Suu Kyi, the most popular name in Myanmar civil politics, remains under arrest in an unknown location, along with many other prominent figures in the party of which she is a member. Detained since the coup, she faces criminal charges which include the illegal importation of six walkie-talkies and an alleged violation of protocols to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Last week, the Nobel Peace Prize winner was charged with accepting illegal payments, but has yet to be formally charged.
In a week when the international community has increased pressure on the military, with new US and European sanctions, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin attended the military parade in Naypyitaw, after meeting with leaders of the military junta the day before.
“Russia is a true friend,” said General Min Aung Hlaing. There is no indication that other diplomats attended the event, usually in the presence of representatives of foreign countries.
The support of Russia and China, who also refrained from criticizing the military takeover, is very important to the junta, since both countries are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and can thus block UN actions.
For this reason, pro-democracy activists have started attacking factories linked to China. On the 14th, the attacks on 32 factories in an industrial suburb sparked Beijing’s sharpest comments about the country’s crisis – without classifying it as a coup, Xi Jinping’s regime denied a few weeks ago that ‘he had given his support or tacit consent to the seizure of power among Myanmars. .
Gunfire hit the American Cultural Center in Yangon on Saturday, but no one was injured. The incident is under investigation, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar, Aryani Manring. The episode is symbolic as the United States is leading criticism of the deaths of protesters in the country.
Protesters have taken to the streets almost daily since the military coup that derailed Myanmar’s slow transition to democracy. “Armed Forces Day is not a day for the security forces, it is the day they killed people,” said Gen. Yawd Ser, head of the Shan State Restoration Council, of Thailand. “If they continue to shoot at the demonstrators and intimidate the population, I don’t think the ethnic groups will stand idly by and do nothing.”
On Twitter, historian Thant Myint-U wrote that “a failed state in Myanmar has the potential to attract all the great powers – including the United States, China, India, Russia and Japan – in a way that could lead to a serious international crisis “. “In addition to an even bigger disaster in Myanmar itself.”