Myanmar: at least 50 protesters killed on ‘day of shame for the armed forces’


Demonstrators against the February 1 military coup took to the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other cities, defying a warning that they could be shot “in the head and back” as the country’s generals celebrated Forces Day. Armed.

“Today is a shameful day for the armed forces,” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group created by deposed lawmakers, said in an online forum.

“Military generals are celebrating Armed Forces Day after they killed more than 300 innocent civilians,” he said, giving a rough estimate of the number of victims since the protests broke out weeks ago.

At least four people were killed when security forces opened fire on a protesting crowd outside a police station in Yangon’s suburb of Dala in the early hours of Saturday, Myanmar Now reported. At least 10 people were injured, the news portal said.

Three people, including a young man who plays for a local U21 soccer team, were shot dead at a protest in the Insein district of the city, a neighbor told Reuters.

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Thirteen people were killed in various incidents in Mandalay, Myanmar Now said. Deaths were also reported in the Sagaing region near Mandalay, the city of Lashio in the east, in the Bago region, near Yangon and elsewhere, he said.

Myanmar Now said a total of at least 50 people died on Saturday. Reuters could not independently verify the death toll.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment.

After presiding over a military parade in the capital, Naypyitaw, to mark Armed Forces Day, Major General Min Aung Hlaing reiterated the promise to hold elections, without giving any deadline.

“The army seeks to unite with the entire nation to safeguard democracy,” the general said in a live broadcast on state television, adding that the authorities also sought to protect the people and restore peace throughout the country.

“Violent acts that affect stability and security to make demands are inappropriate.”

The number of people killed in unrest since the coup against the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi is now nearly 380, according to the death toll on Thursday and a tally by an activist group.

Smoke rises over Yangon's Thaketa Township on March 27, 2021, as security forces continue to suppress protests against the military coup.

Headshots

In an ominous warning Friday night, state television said protesters were “in danger of being shot in the head and back.”

The warning did not specifically say that security forces had received shoot-to-kill orders, but the junta had previously tried to suggest that some fatal shots were fired in the crowd.

But it showed the determination of the armed forces to avoid any disruption around Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the beginning of resistance to the Japanese occupation in 1945 that was orchestrated by the father of Suu Kyi, the founder of the armed forces. .

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s most popular civilian politician, remains in detention at an undisclosed location. Many other figures from his party are also in custody.

In a week in which international pressure on the junta intensified with new US and European sanctions, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin attended the parade in Naypyitaw and met with top junta leaders a day earlier.

“Russia is a true friend,” said Min Aung Hlaing. There were no signs of other diplomats at an event usually attended by dozens of officials from foreign countries.

The Myanmar army is killing peaceful protesters.  This is what you need to know

Support from Russia and China, which it has also refrained from criticizing, is important to the board as they are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and can block possible UN actions.

Protesters have taken to the streets almost daily since the coup that derailed Myanmar’s slow transition to democracy.

As of Friday night, the activist group Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP) counted at least 328 protesters who had been killed in weeks of unrest. Their data shows that around a quarter of them were shot to the head, raising suspicions that they were the target of murder.

Myanmar’s ethnic armed factions will not stand by and do nothing if junta forces continue to kill protesters, said the leader of one of the main armed groups.

“Myanmar Armed Forces Day is not an armed forces day, it is more like the day people were killed,” General Yawd Serk, chairman of the Shan State / State Army Restoration Council, told Reuters. Shan – South.

“It is not for the protection of democracy as well, it is the way they damage democracy … If they continue to shoot protesters and intimidate people, I think all ethnic groups would not stand by and do nothing.” .

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