Day of terror: Myanmar Junta slays over 110 in a day
Security forces in Myanmar killed at least 110 people, including six children, as protesters defied warnings and took the streets Saturday and were met with heavy gunfire, in the highest daily death toll since last month’s coup and a day the EU called a “day of terror and dishonor.”
The military spent from morning to night firing on and arresting protesters and onlookers, killing 114 people, including six children, NGOs, and local media said as citizens shared videos of chaos, bloodshed, and mourning.
“We have confirmation that 114 civilians have died in 44 towns across #Myanmar at the hands of the coup regime’s armed forces.
The numbers include 40 deaths in #Mandalay and 27 deaths in #Yangon,” said a tweet by Myanmar Now, a domestic news outlet. The tally reflected the death toll at 9:30 p.m. in Myanmar.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an NGO based in Thailand, reported that at least 90 people were killed Saturday, bringing the death toll to 423 since the Feb. 1 coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government.
“The junta shot at peaceful protesters since the early morning, the most deadly day in the 55 days since the coup. Many civilians, including children, were shot dead and injured,” the AAPP said in a daily update.
Protests were suppressed by live machine-gun fire in 40 states and regions across the country of 54 million people, including in Yangon, Bago, Magway, Sagaing, Ayeyarwady, Mon, Kachin, and Shan, it said.
“Junta forces shot machine-guns into residential areas, resulting in many civilians, including six children between ten and sixteen years old, killed,” the AAPP added.
Victims included a 13-year-old girl shot dead while she was inside her house in Mandalay and a 16-year-old boy on a motorcycle who was shot from an unmarked army car in Tanintharyi, it said.
The bloodshed followed a warning on state TV Friday by the junta that protesters would be “shot in the head and back” if they turned out on Armed Forces Day, a military
“On Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, security forces are murdering unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they swore to protect. This bloodshed is horrifying,” U.S. Ambassador Thomas Vajda said in a statement.
“These are not the actions of a professional military or police force,” he added.
'Russia is a true friend'
The U.S. embassy later confirmed that “shots were fired at American Center Yangon” on Saturday. “There were no injuries,” it said.
While the U.S., Britain, European countries, Japan, and others shunned Saturday’s army ceremony to avoid any appearance of bestowing legitimacy to the junta, envoys from Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand showed up, with Moscow sending a deputy defense minister.
Local media reports quoted coup leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing as saying "Russia is a true friend” as he hailed the Russian delegation.
Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Representative Committee (CRPH), a shadow parliament made up of politicians who won the election last November, told an online forum Armed Forces Day after the killing of so many civilians “was a shameful day for the military.”
The CRPH called on the international community to designate the Myanmar military as a terrorist group.
Local residents and witnesses told RFA that 12 people were killed in Yangon’s Dala district alone in the early hours of Saturday.
“They used live ammunition. One of the dead was killed trying to help two others who were shot around 2 a.m. They all died at 2:45 a.m.,” said a local resident.
“As far as I know, they were not protesting. They were shot going to the local monastery,” the resident added.
Witnesses said families of slain civilians were not able to retrieve their bodies, which were taken away by police and military forces.
“At this moment, we are still running and hiding,” said another local resident.
“Some of the bodies were collected at the mortuary and so far they informed all the families to gather at a local cemetery for mass cremation,” the resident said.
'Terror and dishonor' forever
At the Yuzana Garden Housing complex in Yangon’s Dagon township, three protesters were shot early Saturday morning and citizen video footage showed them being dragged away by the military forces. Residents said four more protesters were arrested at the scene.
Troops “arrived by four armored vehicles and one light truck while youths were gathering at the street corner for a protest,” said a local resident at Yuzana Garden Housing complex.
“They arrived violently and started shooting. They beat the youths, made them lay facing on the ground, and kicked them with military boots,” the witness said, adding that three young men with gunshot wounds were dragged in the street for three blocks.
Reports on social media said there were arson attacks in six outlying townships of Yangon, the country’s largest city.
In Mandalay, local residents and volunteer medics told RFA they were overwhelmed by the number of wounded people arriving for treatment after a day of violent suppression of protests.
Myanmar suffered harsh military rule from 1962 to 2011, and last month’s coup is the second time the army nullified the results of an election swept by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.
The first time, in 1990, the junta held Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years between 1989 and 2010.
Armed Forces Day commemorates the March 27, 1945 start of a rebellion by the Burma National Army that helped defeat the occupying Imperial Japanese Army.
The Burmese army was founded by Aung San, the father of Aung San Suu Kyi.
“This 76th Myanmar armed forces day will forever stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonor,” said the European Union mission in Yangon. “The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, are indefensible acts.”
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Paul Eckert.