Myanmar: At the least 114 individuals have been killed on the bloodiest day of the protest
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews said it was time for “robust, coordinated action” as “words are not enough” to protect people’s lives.
“Words of condemnation or concern openly sound hollow to the people of Myanmar as they are mass murdered by the military junta,” he said. “The people of Myanmar need the support of the world.”
Among those killed is reportedly a 13-year-old girl who, according to Myanmar Now, was shot dead in her home after junta forces opened fire in residential areas of Meikhtila in the Mandalay region. She is among the 20 minors who have been killed since the protests began, Myanmar Now reported.
CNN was unable to independently confirm the number of people killed.
The fatal attack took place on the country’s armed forces day. Maj. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, said during a parade in the capital Naypyitaw to mark the event that the military would protect the people and pursue democracy, Reuters reported.
State television said on Friday that demonstrators risked being shot “in the head and in the back.” Despite this, protesters against the February 1 coup continued to come out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other cities.
At least 423 people have been killed in Myanmar since the military coup on February 1, according to the latest results from the non-profit association for political prisoners.
A boy who local media reported was 5 years old was among at least 29 people killed in Mandalay. At least 24 people were killed in Yangon, according to Reuters, Myanmar Now said.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” said Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group founded by ousted lawmakers, an online forum.
Sasa called his country’s military leaders “murderers” and asked the international community to take “real action” against the military junta.
“They [military] should not have access to the international arms market, financial institutions or development aid. Please do everything in your power to block all funding, business and access to financial markets in your jurisdiction, “he said.
“How many of us have to die before moving from your incremental response to real action?”
Meanwhile, one of Myanmar’s two dozen armed ethnic groups, the Karen National Union, said they overran an army post near the Thai border, killed 10 people – including a lieutenant colonel – and lost one of their own fighters, Reuters reported.
A military spokesman did not respond to calls from the news agency for comment on the killings by security forces or the insurgent attack on their post.
“They kill us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” said Thu Ya Zaw in downtown Myingyan, where at least two protesters were killed, according to Reuters. “We will continue to protest anyway … We have to fight until the junta falls.”
“Day of Terror and Shame”
The US embassy in Myanmar, together with the embassies of the European Union and the United Kingdom, condemned the killings by security forces in Myanmar and called for an end to the violence on Saturday.
“On Myanmar Armed Forces Day, security forces murder unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they wanted to protect. This bloodshed is terrible,” said Thomas Vajda, US ambassador to Myanmar, in a statement.
“These are not the actions of a professional military or police force. Myanmar’s people have made it clear: They do not want to live under military rule,” he added.
“This 76th Armed Forces Day in Myanmar will remain engraved as the Day of Terror and Shame,” said the EU delegation in Myanmar. “The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, cannot be justified.”
News cited by Reuters reported that there were deaths in the central Sagaing region, Lashio to the east, the Bago region, near Yangon and elsewhere. A 1 year old baby was hit in the eye with a rubber bullet.
In Naypyitaw, Min Aung Hlaing reiterated the promise to hold elections without giving a time frame, Reuters reported.
“The army is trying to join forces with the entire nation to protect democracy,” he said on state television live. “Acts of violence that compromise stability and security to make claims are inappropriate.”
The military has said it took power because the November elections won by the Aung San Suu Kyi party were fraudulent, a claim rejected by the country’s electoral commission.
Suu Kyi, the country’s elected leader and most popular civilian politician, remains detained in an undisclosed location. Many other people in her party are also being detained.
Defense chiefs from Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the US issued a joint statement “condemning the use of lethal force against unarmed people”. “”
“A professional military follows international standards of conduct and is responsible for protecting – not harming – the people it serves. We urge the Myanmar Armed Forces to stop the violence and work to ensure the respect and credibility of the people to restore in Myanmar what it has lost through its actions, “the statement read.
Russia “a true friend”
In its warning on Friday evening, state television said the protesters were “at risk of being shot in the head and back”. No explicit reference was made to security forces having received shooting orders, and the junta had previously suggested that some fatal shootings came from the crowd.
International pressure on the junta increased this week with new US and European sanctions. Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin took part in the parade in Naypyitaw after meeting senior junta leaders the day before, Reuters reported.
“Russia is a true friend,” said Min Aung Hlaing.
Diplomats told Reuters that eight countries – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – sent representatives, but Russia was the only country that sent a minister.
The support of Russia and China, which has also refrained from criticism, is important for the junta as these two countries are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and can block potential UN actions.
Armed Forces Day commemorates the beginning of the resistance against the Japanese occupation in 1945, staged by Suu Kyi’s father, the founder of the military.
According to Reuters, gunfire hit the US cultural center in Yangon on Saturday, but no one was injured and the incident was being investigated, US embassy spokesman Aryani Manring said.
Protesters have taken to the streets almost every day since the coup that failed Myanmar’s slow transition to democracy.
General Yawd Serk, chairman of the Shan State Restoration Council / Shan State Army – South, one of the country’s ethnic armies, told Reuters in neighboring Thailand, “If they keep shooting at protesters and harassing people, I think all The Ethnic Groups wouldn’t just watch and do nothing. “
Author and historian Thant Myint-U wrote on Twitter: “A failed state in Myanmar has the potential to attract all major powers – including the US, China, India, Russia and Japan – in ways that could lead to a major international crisis (as well as an even bigger disaster in Myanmar itself). “
CNN’s Eleanor Pickston and Richard Roth contributed to this report.