TOPLINE More than 500 people have been killed by Myanmar’s military junta since it took power on February 1, the local monitoring body reported Monday, highlighting the brutal crackdown the country’s military rulers have enacted since overthrowing the country’s democratically elected government.
- As of Monday night, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), reported a total of 510 civilians killed by the military government—including 14 who were shot dead on Monday—but warned that its numbers could be an undercount.
- According to the report, security forces used a heavy caliber weapon—believed to be a grenade launcher—at protestors crouching behind barricades in Yangon, causing eight civilian deaths on Monday.
- Pro-democracy protesters have reacted to Monday’s toll by launching a “garbage strike” in Yangon, which has caused a massive pile-up of garbage in the country’s capital, Reuters reported.
- Violence in the country could escalate further after the General Strike Committee of Nationalities—one of the larger protest groups in the country—has sought support from various insurgent groups in the country.
- Three such insurgent groups which represent various ethnic minorities in the country—Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Arakan Army (AA), and Ta’ang National Liberation Army—warned the military junta that they will join the fight if the killing of protestors continued, the Reuters report added.
141. That’s the total number of protestors who were killed on Saturday in Myanmar, making it by the bloodiest day of the protests so far. According to the AAPP, the country’s military rulers have detained or arrested at least 2,574 protestors so far.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to see violence against people at such high levels, so many people killed, and such a stubborn refusal to accept the need to liberate all political prisoners and to make the country go back to a serious democratic transition,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a news conference on Monday. Guterres then urged the country’s military dictators to undertake a “serious democratic transition.”
The Biden administration reacted to the increasingly bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces by announcing on Monday that it was scrapping a trade deal with the country which was signed in 2013. The United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the suspension of the trade agreement on Twitter, adding: “We support the people of Burma’s efforts to restore a democratically-elected government, which has been the foundation of Burma’s economic growth and reform.”
Myanmar’s military staged a coup in February and announced it would take charge of the country for one year. The military leaders have alleged, without evidence, that the National League for Democracy (NLD) party and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi fraudulently won the country’s most recent elections. Citing the election fraud as a reason, the junta came into power by invoking a clause in the country’s constitution that permits an armed takeover of the government. The coup has faced major opposition both abroad and at home. Several countries including the U.S., U.K., Canada along with the European Union have imposed sanctions against the country’s military leaders. Within Myanmar, the coup has been met with massive protests from the country’s civilian population who have demanded the release of Suu Kyi, the country’s former leader.
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff