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PROTESTERS were back on the streets of Myanmar today despite a weekend of brutality in which the army killed more than 100 people.
Protests were held in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s two biggest cities, and elsewhere. Some of the demonstrations were again met with police violence.
At least 114 people were killed Saturday as security forces cracked down on protests against the February 1 coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government. The death toll includes several children.
The bloodletting took place as military chiefs staged a parade in the capital Naypyitaw to mark Armed Forces Day.
Junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing accused protesters of “terrorism” that was “harmful to state tranquillity” and repeated unsubstantiated claims that last November’s elections, which gave Ms Suu Kyi’s National Democratic League 80 per cent of the vote, had been fraudulent. He promised new elections, though did not specify when these would take place.
Under the uneasy truce between the military and the democracy movement between 2015 and this year, the army was guaranteed control of a quarter of parliamentary seats and a third of seats in all regional assemblies. But the scale of the NDL’s victory last year was perceived as a threat by military commanders.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said he was shocked by the killings of civilians.
“The continuing military crackdown is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified & resolute international response,” he said. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “horrified.”
An unusual joint statement was also issued by the defence secretaries of 12 countries – Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States – calling on the Burmese army to “work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions.”
And regional militias which have long observed ceasefires with the central government appeared to be gearing up for civil war.
“The Myanmar Armed Forces Day isn’t an armed forces day, it’s more like the day they killed people,” said General Yawd Serk of the Shan State Army South, a north-eastern separatist militia. “If they continue to shoot at protesters and bully the people, I think all the ethnic groups would not just stand by and do nothing.”
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