Another horrific day of bloodshed . . .
At least 114 people were killed by security forces across 40 cities in Myanmar on Saturday, setting yet another record number of deaths since the military junta took power in a coup d’état almost two months ago. At the border, the military launched a series of airstrikes that forced thousands of ethnic Karen people to flee to neighbouring Thailand. Many victims of Saturday’s violence were young children and women. The killings took place on Armed Forces Day, an annual celebration involving military parades attended by Burmese personnel and foreign representatives. As soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing threw lavish dinner parties while justifying the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.
Time to join hands . . .
Last weekend’s brutal killings brought the National League of Democracy’s (NLD) supporters, pro-democracy protesters, and ethnic groups closer together. The Brotherhood Alliance, a group of ethnic armed organizations that includes the powerful Arakan Army, said it would join forces with other ethnic minority groups across Myanmar to fight against the military regime’s crackdown should violence continue. The sentiment shared among people in Myanmar is that they are not ready to back down and will continue to protest regardless of the increasingly horrific violence.
Condemnations ring hollow when action is needed . . .
Saturday’s violence was met with an immediate international outcry. The U.S., which had announced new sanctions on Myanmar’s military-controlled conglomerates last week, suspended its diplomatic trade engagement with the country on Monday. As the UN Security Council is set to have an emergency meeting this Wednesday, Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews urged the body to cut the junta’s access to funds and weapons and refer it to the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is unclear whether the UN Security Council will be able to pass a resolution given disagreements among its members. However, the lack of co-ordinated international action raises concern that the crisis will descend into a protracted civil war.