The protests in Myanmar on Saturday 27th March left 114 citizens dead, including more than five children. Unarmed protesters took to the streets after 2 months of rebelling against the successful military coup in early February, overthrowing President Aung San Suu Kyi and implementing their strict authoritarian regime. The coup was caused by the National League for Democracy (NDL) dominating open elections in the country, sparking false claims of fraudulent operations by the military. Led by Min Aung Hlaing, the army seized power in early February this year and accused the pro-democratic government of committing “unlawful acts”.
The military were roused and upset that the protestors had interrupted Armed Forces Day, named the most important military day of the year commemorating the initiation of resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945. Whilst the East Asian military leaders including Chinese and Russian officials threw a grand celebration, innocent Burmese citizens experienced the bloodiest day since the start of the coup in what has been coined “National Massacre Day”. The brave citizens were warned that if they protested, they would be shot “in the head and back”, yet devoted protestors still insist that they will “keep fighting”.
Since the beginning of the coup, over 400 civilians have been murdered in over 40 locations, including a 5-year-old boy shot in the head and a baby shot in the eye with a rubber bullet by army officers. The scenes in Myanmar are grisly and telling of the military regime. The officials’ brutality has been reported in over 40 locations across the country, wiping out any citizens that dare to voice their dislike of the authoritarian regime which has destroyed progressive efforts from the National League of Democracy Party. Shocking images have surfaced on the Internet and social media of families and locals in distress, some holding their blood-soaked loved ones after being shot in the head and with officers standing around.
International reactions have been emotional – the UN condemned the barbaric and inhumane acts of military officers. Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary of the UK has deemed it a “new low”, imposing sanctions on Myanmar along with the US and the EU.
Controversially, neither China nor Russia have commented on these terrorist attacks, leading to fears that they will veto efforts from the UN to take urgent humanitarian action. Chinese and Russian officials were present at the Armed Forces Day celebrations, with the military leader Aung Hlaing calling Russia a “true friend” for providing military resources and training to Burmese soldiers and encouraging this authoritarian movement.
The military coup in Myanmar had claimed to be an effort to restore democracy to hold new elections after the ‘frauded’ landslide of the NLD. However, the atrocities committed on Saturday express just the opposite. The extremity and overreaction to these peaceful protests, turned violent, expose the threatening military dictatorship Myanmar is currently faced with. It is apparent neither side will back down, resulting in more guaranteed
unnecessary deaths of innocent adults and children. Crucial efforts from the UN must be watched closely, also the response of China and Russia amid their own political crises. The military must be held account for the mounting death toll caused by not only Saturday’s “massacre”, but the 400 total deaths since early February under the illegitimate military dictatorship.