Global concern grows for Myanmar as more protesters killed in crackdown


The international community pleaded with the country’s ruling military junta to show restraint after 11 more anti-coup protesters were killed by security forces in Myanmar on Monday.

So far Myanmar’s generals have shown no signs of heeding the call as the crackdown have now claimed the lives of at least 138 “peaceful protesters” – including women and children – according to the UN.

The United Nations, the United States, China and Britain all condemned the violent crackdown as demonstrators returned to the streets to demand the restoration of democracy and the release of the country’s civilian leaders.

Sunday was the deadliest day yet for the civilian protesters when more than three dozens demonstrators were killed as security forces cracked down on pro-democracy rallies.

But the killings did not stop demonstrators, who came out again Monday only to once again face what witnesses said was lethal force by the military government.

Those killed on Monday were shot dead in several locations in the country’s central regions.

“Two men were killed because of gunshots and six others were injured,” a witness in Magway region’s Aunglan town told AFP, adding that one of the dead was shot in the chest.

“He was right beside me. Another one got shot in his head.”

“The junta has responded to call for the restoration of democracy in Burma with bullets,” US State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters Monday, using another name for Myanmar and labelling the Sunday attacks “another new low.”

“The United States continues to call on all countries to take concrete actions to oppose the coup, and escalating violence,” she added.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called for the international community “including regional actors, to come together in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday.

UN envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener also condemned Sunday’s bloodshed, while the country’s former colonial ruler Britain said it was “appalled” by the use of force “against innocent people”.

Myanmar has been in uproar since the putsch, with daily protests demanding a restoration of democracy despite the military government’s increasingly forceful attempts to quell dissent.

The bulk of the deaths on Sunday came from a clash in a garment-producing district in the capital Yangon where multiple Chinese-owned factories were razed. Many protesters believe Beijing is supportive of the coup.

Six Yangon townships were under martial law by morning – anyone arrested there faces trial by military tribunal rather than civilian courts, with sentences ranging from three years’ hard labour to execution.

Those clashes drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing, which on Monday urged Myanmar to “resolutely avoid a recurrence of such incidents”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian described the violence as “nasty”.

China “is very concerned about the impact on the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel,” he told reporters in Beijing, adding the Myanmar security forces had reinforced the area around the factories.

Taiwan, meanwhile, advised its companies in Myanmar to fly the island’s flag to avoid being targeted.

News of the violence came out in the afternoon due to a block on mobile data networks across Myanmar – which also scuppered a scheduled video court appearance by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The court hearing for the Nobel laureate – who spent more than 15 years under house arrest during previous military rule – was scheduled for 10am in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, but it was postponed until March 24, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told AFP.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces at least four charges.

Military authorities have also accused her of accepting illegal payments – allegations her lawyer says are “groundless”. (Source: CNA)