UN condemns ‘mass murder’ in Myanmar after 114 killed in one day
Two top UN officials condemned Myanmar’s military junta on Sunday in the wake of the bloodiest day of protests yet against the military coup that overthrew the country’s elected government.
At least 114 people were killed Saturday during demonstrations in 44 towns and cities across the country, according to a tally by the independent Myanmar Now news outlet.
In a joint statement, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged the Myanmar military to “immediately stop killing the very people it has the duty to serve and protect.”
The officials also “strongly condemned the Myanmar military’s widespread, lethal, increasingly systematic attacks against peaceful protesters, as well as other serious violations of human rights since it seized power on 1 February 2021.
“Myanmar security forces opened fire Sunday at people gathered for the funeral of one of those killed the previous day, witnesses told Reuters.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in the firing on the funeral in the town of Bago, near the commercial capital Yangon, according to three people who spoke to Reuters.
“While we are singing the revolution song for him, security forces just arrived and shot at us,” said a woman called Aye, who was at the service for Thae Maung Maung, a 20-year-old student who was shot on Saturday. “People, including us, run away as they opened fire.”
Two people were killed in firing on protests on Sunday in separate incidents elsewhere, witnesses and news reports said, according to Reuters. One person was killed when troops opened fire overnight on a group of protesters near the capital Naypyitaw, Myanmar Now news reported.
So far on Sunday there were no reports of large-scale protests in Yangon or in the country’s second city, Mandalay, which bore the brunt of the casualties on Saturday, Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, Reuters said. Funerals were held in many places.
At least six children between the ages of 10 and 16 were among those killed on Saturday, according to news reports and witnesses.
According to the latest tally by the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 423 people have been killed in Myanmar since the military coup on February 1.
CNN has been unable independently to confirm the number of people killed.
The bloodshed Saturday drew renewed Western condemnation. The UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar said the army was carrying out “mass murder” and called on the world to isolate the junta and halt its access to weapons.
Foreign criticism and sanctions imposed by some Western nations have failed so far to sway the military leaders, as have almost daily protests around the country since the junta took power and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We salute our heroes who sacrificed lives during this revolution and We Must Win This REVOLUTION,” one of the main protest groups, the General Strike Committee of Nationalities (GSCN), posted on Facebook.
Saturday also brought some of the heaviest fighting since the coup between the army and the ethnic armed groups that control swathes of the country, according to Reuters.
Military jets had killed at least three people in a raid on a village controlled by an armed group from the Karen minority, a civil society group said on Sunday, after the Karen National Union faction earlier said it had overrun an army post near the Thai border, killing 10 people. The air strikes sent villagers fleeing into the jungle.
Fighting erupted on Sunday between another armed group, the Kachin Independence Army, and the military in the jade-mining area of Hpakant in the north, according to Reuters. The Kachin forces attacked a police station and the military responded with an aerial assault, Kachinwaves media reported.
There were no reports of casualties.
A junta spokesman did not answer calls from Reuters seeking comment on the killings or the fighting.
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, said during a parade to mark Armed Forces Day that the military would protect the people and strive for democracy.
Countries including the United States, Britain and the European Union strongly condemned Saturday’s violence.
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 from access to weapons.
“Words of condemnation or concern are frankly ringing hollow to the people of Myanmar while the military junta commits mass murder against them,” he said in a statement.
Nderitu and Bachelet called the killings “shameful, cowardly, brutal actions of the military and police, who have been filmed shooting at protesters as they flee, and who have not even spared young children.”
“This situation has also put at further risk the already vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar, including the Rohingya,” their joint statement said.
They called on the international community to act, adding: “The international community has a responsibility to protect the people of Myanmar from atrocity crimes.”
The top military officer from the United States and nearly a dozen of his counterparts said in a statement that a professional military must follow international standards for conduct “and is responsible for protecting — not harming — the people it serves.”
The military took power saying that November elections won by Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, an assertion dismissed by the country’s election commission.
Suu Kyi remains in detention at an undisclosed location and many other figures in her party are also in custody.
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