Chiefs of Defense from a dozen countries on Sunday jointly condemned the massacre in Myanmar a day earlier, when at least 90 people – including several children – were killed after security forces opened fire on protesters against the coup.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the generals rejected and arrested civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking mass protests demanding a return to democracy.
The junta on Saturday organized a large force for its annual armed forces, as the death toll since the coup on February 1 rose to at least 423, according to a local monitoring group.
Defense ministers in 12 countries, including the United States, Britain, Japan and Australia, condemned the Myanmar military’s use of lethal force against civilians.
“A professional military follows international standards of conduct and is responsible for protecting – not harming – the people it serves,” the rare joint statement said.
“We urge the armed forces of Myanmar to put an end to the violence and work to restore the respect and credibility of the people of Myanmar that they have lost through their actions.”
‘Reign of Horror’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that Washington was “appalled” by the killings carried out by Myanmar’s security forces and blew up the “military terror period”.
“We are appalled by the bloodshed of the Burmese security forces, which shows that the junta will sacrifice the lives of the people to serve the few,” Blinken said in a tweet.
“The brave people of Burma reject military terror.”
We are appalled by the bloodshed of Burmese security forces and show that the junta will sacrifice the lives of the people to serve the few. I send my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. The brave people of Burma reject the military terror.
– Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 27, 2021
Mourners were expected to face funeral rites across the country on Sunday, after the bloodiest day since the coup.
Flag demonstrators took to the streets in the morning in the city of Bago, northeast of Yangon and the small town of Moe Kaung in the state of Kachin.
One day earlier, violence broke out across the country with the military using live rounds in nine regions, including the largest city in Yangon, said the local monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
At sunset, the AAPP said at least 90 people had been killed. Local media, however, put the number of deaths higher at 114.
“Junta forces fired machine guns in residential areas, killing many civilians, including six children between the ages of ten and sixteen,” AAPP said.
“The fact that the illegal military regime is targeting children is a serious inhumanity.”
Rebels in eastern Myanmar state of Karen said they had focused on airstrikes late Saturday, hours after the ethnic armed group seized a military base.
Hsa Moo, an ethnic Karen and human rights activist, said three people were killed and at least eight were injured.
“People are worried about the air strike coming again today,” she told AFP.
It was the first air strike in several years in the state and targeted the Fifth Brigade of the Karen National Union (KNU) – one of the country’s largest armed groups – which claims to represent the ethnic Karen people.
The junta did not comment immediately and there was no official confirmation of the deaths.
” Harmful to state peace ”
A large parade of troops and military vehicles was held in the capital Naypyidaw on Saturday where junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing defended the coup and promised to give power after a new election.
But he also issued a threat to the anti-insurgency and warned that “terrorism that could be detrimental to state peace and security” was unacceptable.
“The democracy we want would be undisciplined if they do not respect and break the law,” he said.
The Armed Forces Day celebrates the beginning of local resistance to the Japanese occupation during World War II and usually has a military parade involving foreign military officials and diplomats.
The junta announced that eight international delegations attended Saturday’s events, including those in China and Russia – with a state media broadcast showing Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin in the audience.
Myanmar’s embassy in London on Sunday confirmed that the ambassador met with Suu Kyi’s youngest son Kim, 44, last week, who repeated a request to speak to his mother by telephone.
“Kim asked about his mother’s situation and her health. He is obviously extremely worried,” the embassy said on its Facebook page, adding that it had already sent three letters to Naypyidaw.
( Jowharwith AFP)