Martial law enacted after deadliest weekend . . .
Violence continues unabated in the streets of Myanmar six weeks after the February 1st military coup that toppled the elected civilian government. On Sunday, the military junta declared martial law in parts of Myanmar’s largest city Yangon after a violent crackdown by security forces led to more than 70 deaths – the largest number since the beginning of anti-coup protests. Martial law allows the junta to try those it arrests by a military tribunal, which could lead to harsh punishments, including the death sentence and indefinite jail terms. On Tuesday, many residents were seen fleeing the affected townships by motorbike and tuk-tuk. Meanwhile, families of the victims killed during the demonstrations held funerals attended by thousands of mourners who raised the three-finger salute of resistance.
China comes across as tone-deaf . . .
During Sunday’s bloodshed, protesters targeted 32 Chinese-financed factories set on fire and vandalized, presumably to denounce China’s perceived support of the illegitimate military government. Beijing continues to deny these allegations. Its strong calls for the perpetrators to be punished without any mention of the lives lost at the hands of the military further enflamed anti-Chinese resentment. Under the National League of Democracy’s (NLD) government, important Chinese-backed infrastructure projects moved forward thanks to friendly China-Myanmar relations. While it is clear that the current situation is a blow to China’s economic and political interests, turning the tide on Burmese public opinion will be difficult in the absence of any display of solidarity toward their plight.
Everyone has a role to play . . .
The Myanmar crisis is challenging China’s long-held principles of non-interference in other country’s internal affairs. Support for the return of democratic governance would undermine Beijing’s preferred non-interventionist approach to foreign relations. In contrast, support for the military is increasingly unpalatable in the wake of last Sunday’s anti-China looting. As Myanmar’s economy comes to a grinding halt and food prices soar, the international community is under increasing pressure to act. However, China’s inflexible position will be a challenge for concerted action by the UN Security Council, while ambivalent and varying positions among Asian nations, including ASEAN but also Japan and India, also challenge a co-ordinated regional response.
- The Diplomat: China’s Myanmar Mess
- Frontier Myanmar: Residents flee violence, martial law in Yangon factory district
- Reuters: Myanmar families hold funerals for crackdown victims as activists defy security crackdown