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Myanmar coup: US horrified by deadliest day since last month's coup

Date Added: March 28, 2021 03:54:00 PM
Author: Sutra Web Directory
Category: News & References: Breaking News
 
 
The US has said that it is "horrified" by the killing of scores of anti-coup protesters in Myanmar on Saturday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the military of "a reign of terror" that was "sacrificing the lives of the people to serve the few".

Saturday was the deadliest day since last month's military takeover.

The defence chiefs of a dozen nations, including the UK, on Sunday issued a rare joint statement condemning the military's violent actions.

The US, Japan and Australia were also among the signatories of a statement that said: "A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting - not harming - the people it serves."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply shocked" at the violence and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called it a "new low".

The EU delegation to Myanmar said Saturday - officially Armed Forces Day - would "stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour".

The lethal crackdown against civilians - including children - came as protesters defied warnings and took to the streets in towns and cities.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group confirmed at least 91 deaths while local media put the figure higher.

"They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes," resident Thu Ya Zaw told Reuters news agency in the central town of Myingyan.

"We will keep protesting regardless."

The latest violence took the number killed in the suppression of protests in Myanmar since the 1 February coup to more than 400.

The military seized control of the South East Asian country after an election which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

What happened on Saturday?

Protesters gathered across Myanmar, also known as Burma.

State TV aired an announcement the previous evening saying people "should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back".

Security forces were out in strength trying to prevent rallies.

Images shared on social media showed people with gunshot wounds and families mourning.

The director of the Burma Human Rights Network in UK told the BBC the military had shown it had "no limits, no principles".

"It's a massacre, it's not a crackdown anymore," Kyaw Win said.

Violent crackdowns using live ammunition were reported in more than 40 locations across the country.

Local news site Myanmar Now put the death toll at 114, while the United Nations said it was receiving reports of "scores killed" and hundreds more injured.

The AAP said among the fatalities was a 13-year-old girl who was shot dead inside her home.

Witnesses and sources told BBC Burmese of protester deaths in the cities and townships of Magway, Mogok, Kyaukpadaung and Mayangone.

Deaths were also reported in Yangon and on the streets of the second-largest city Mandalay, where protesters carried the flag of the NLD and gave their now traditional anti-authoritarian three-finger salute.

The military has not commented on the killings. In an Armed Forces Day TV address, coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said the army wanted to "join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy".

"Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate," he said.

Meanwhile, an ethnic armed group in eastern Myanmar said military jets had targeted territory it controls. The strike was launched hours after the group, the Karen National Union, said it had overrun an army post near the Thai border.

It came amid rising tensions between the group and the military after years of relative peace.

Children among the dead and injured
 
Moe Myint, BBC Burmese

Fourteen-year-old Pan Ei Phyu's mother says she rushed to close all the doors when she heard the military coming down her street. But she wasn't fast enough. A moment later, she was holding her daughter's blood-soaked body.

"I saw her collapse and initially thought she just slipped and fell. But then blood spurted out from her chest," she told BBC Burmese from Meiktila in central Myanmar.

It was the randomness of the killings that was particularly shocking. Armed with battlefield weapons, the security forces appeared willing to shoot anyone they saw on the streets. The brutality they showed they were capable of is on another level from what we have seen since the coup.

Neither side - the military nor the pro-democracy movement - is willing to back down. The military thinks it can terrorise people to achieve "stability and security". But the movement on the streets, led by young people, is determined to rid the country of the military dictatorship once and for all.

It's painful to have to count the mounting dead, especially the children.

Myanmar profile

  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history, it has been under military rule
  • Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government headed by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
  • In 2017, Myanmar's army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing"
~ Via BBC