Smoke rises after protesters burn tires as they gather to continue their protest against the military coup and the imprisonment of elected government officials on March 27, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.
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Across Myanmar, opponents of the ruling junta mourned the murder of at least 114 people by security forces on the bloodiest day since the February 1 military coup on Sunday, but vowed to continue protesting to end the army’s rule.
According to news and witnesses, children were killed on Saturday, Myanmar Armed Forces Day. The UN investigator said the army was carrying out “mass murder”.
“We salute our heroes who sacrificed lives during this revolution, and we have to win this REVOLUTION,” posted one of the major protest groups, the General Strike Committee of Nationalities (GSCN), on Facebook.
Saturday also saw some of the worst fighting since the coup between the army and the ethnic armed groups that control parts of the country.
Military jets had killed at least three people in a raid on a village controlled by an armed group belonging to the Karen minority, a civil society group said on Sunday after the Karen National Union faction had previously said it had an army post near the overrun the Thai border, killing 10 people. The air strikes caused the villagers to flee into the jungle.
A junta spokesman did not answer calls for comment on the killings or fighting.
Protesters burn tires to block the road during the demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar.
Theint Mon Soe | SOPA pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images
Major General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, said during a Parade on Armed Forces Day that the military would protect the people and seek democracy.
The news portal Myanmar Now reported that 114 people across the country were killed in raids against the protests.
The dead included 40 people, including a 13-year-old girl, in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second city. At least 27 people were killed in the Yangon commercial center, Myanmar Now said. Another 13-year-old was among the dead in the central Sagaing region.
Deaths have been recorded from the Kachin region in the mountainous north to Taninthartharyi in the extreme south of the Andaman Sea. The total number of civilians killed since the coup has exceeded 440.
US Ambassador Thomas Vajda said on social media: “This bloodshed is terrible,” adding, “Myanmar’s people have made it clear: They do not want to live under military rule.”
The EU delegation in Myanmar said Saturday “will forever be engraved as a day of terror and shame”.
The chief military officer from the United States and nearly a dozen of his colleagues came together to condemn the murders by Myanmar’s army.
Their statement stated that a professional military must follow international standards of conduct “and is responsible for protecting – not harming” the people it serves.
UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said it was time for the world to take action – if not through the UN Security Council, then through an international emergency summit. He said the junta should be cut off from funding such as oil and gas revenues and access to weapons.
“Words of condemnation or concern openly sound hollow to the people of Myanmar as they are mass murdered by the military junta,” he said in a statement.
“The people of Myanmar need the support of the world. Words are not enough. It is time for robust, coordinated action.”
Protesters stand behind a barricade waiting for security forces to approach in Yangon, Myanmar, on March 27, 2021.
Despite Western condemnation, Myanmar’s junta has friends elsewhere.
Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin took part in the military parade in Naypyitaw on Saturday after meeting senior junta leaders the day before.
Diplomats said eight countries – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – had sent representatives, but Russia was the only country to send a minister to parade on Armed Forces Day, marking the start of the resistance against recalled Japanese occupation 1945.
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 action by the United States.
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 remains in custody in an undisclosed location and many others from her party are also in custody.
Myanmar’s embassy in London, which is under the control of junta opponents, said on Facebook that the ambassador met Suu Kyi’s son there on Thursday. Kim Aris had asked if the embassy could arrange a call with his mother, it said.
“Kim asked about his mother’s situation and her health. He is obviously extremely concerned,” it said, adding that the ambassador had already sent three inquiries to the capital of Myanmar and would send another reminder.