Protesters against the February 1 military coup took to the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other cities, defying the warning that they could be shot “in the head and in the back” while the generals of the country were celebrating Armed Forces Day.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” said Dr Sasa, spokesperson for CRPH, an anti-junta group created by ousted lawmakers, in an online forum.
“Military generals are celebrating Armed Forces Day after killing more than 300 innocent civilians,” he said, giving a rough estimate of the toll since the protests began weeks ago.
At least four people were killed when security forces opened fire on a crowd demonstrating outside a police station in the Yangon suburb of Dala in the early hours of Saturday, Myanmar Now reported. At least 10 people were injured, according to the news portal.
Thirteen people were killed in various incidents in Mandalay, Myanmar Now said. Deaths have also been reported in the Sagaing region near Mandalay, in the eastern town of Lashio, in the Bago region, near Yangon and elsewhere, he said.
Myanmar Now said at least 50 people were killed on Saturday. Reuters could not independently verify the death toll.
A military spokesperson did not respond to calls for comment.
After presiding over a military parade in the capital, Naypyitaw, to mark Armed Forces Day, General Min Aung Hlaing reiterated his pledge to hold elections, without giving a timetable.
“The army seeks to join forces with the whole nation to safeguard democracy,” the general said in a live broadcast on state television, adding that the authorities were also seeking to protect the population and restore peace. in all the countries.
“Violent acts that affect stability and security to make demands are inappropriate. ”
The number of people killed in the turmoil since the coup against the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi is now nearly 380, based on Thursday’s toll and a tally kept by a group of activists .
Shots in the head
In a ominous warning Friday night, state television said protesters were at risk of being shot in the head and in the back.
The warning did not specifically say that the security forces had been ordered to shoot to kill, but the junta has previously attempted to suggest that fatal shots were coming from the crowd.
But it showed the military’s determination to prevent any disruption around Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945 orchestrated by the father of Suu Kyi, the army’s founder. .
Myanmar’s most popular civilian politician, Suu Kyi, remains in an unknown location. Many other personalities of his party are also placed in detention.
In a week that saw international pressure on the junta intensify with new US and European sanctions, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin attended the parade in Naypyitaw, after meeting with senior leaders of the junta a day earlier.
“Russia is a true friend,” said Min Aung Hlaing. There was no sign of other diplomats at an event usually attended by dozens of officials from foreign countries.
Support from Russia and China, who have also refrained from criticism, is important to the junta as they are permanent members of the UN Security Council and can block potential UN actions.
Protesters have taken to the streets almost daily since the coup that derailed Myanmar’s slow transition to democracy.
Until Friday evening, the activist group the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP) counted at least 328 demonstrators who were killed during the weeks of unrest. His data shows that about a quarter of them died from gunshots in the head, suggesting they were targeted for being killed.
Myanmar’s ethnic armed factions will not stand idly by and do nothing if junta forces continue to kill protesters, the leader of one of the main armed groups said.
“Myanmar Armed Forces Day is not an armed forces day, rather it is the day they killed people,” General Yawd Serk, chairman of the State Restoration Council, told Reuters. Shan / Shan State Army – South.
“It’s not for the protection of democracy either, it’s the way they damage democracy … If they keep shooting protesters and intimidating people, I think all ethnic groups don’t. would not stand idly by and do nothing. ”