Junta engaged in ‘mass murder’ against ethnic groups
by Francis Khoo Thwe

The UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar Tom Andrews slams the military's actions. Last Saturday, 114 people were killed; yesterday another 13; including children and youth under 16. Since 1 February, the death toll has risen to 459 with 2,559 people jailed. Armed Karen and Kachin groups have clashed with the military.  The EU’s Josep Borrell calls on the generals to abandon the “senseless path” of violence against their own people.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar’s security forces have engaged in “mass murder” against unarmed civilians protesting in favour of democracy, this according to Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar.

Last Saturday, 27 March, Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, was the deadliest day with 114 deaths since the military seized power in a coup on 1 February.

For Andrews, the international community must isolate the military junta and halt its access to weapons, at a time when the country’s military is also increasingly involved in clashes with the armed wings of the country’s minority ethnic groups.

According to local sources, a protester was killed in the town of Pathein while a one-and-a-half-year-old toddler was wounded in South Dagon. On Saturday, at least six teens, aged 10 to 16, were among those killed. Protesters call them “the fallen stars.”

Yesterday, in Bago, near Yangon, security forces fired during the funeral of a 20-year-old student, Thae Maung, because those present were singing a pro-democracy song. There are no reports of casualties.

According to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP), 13 people were killed yesterday, bringing the death toll to 459.

The AAPP, which tabulates deaths and arrests each day, reports that 2,559 people have been imprisoned so far; 37 of them have already been tried and another 119 have been indicted.

Faced with the targeted killing of so many defenceless people, various protest groups are calling on the armed wings of ethnic groups “to collectively protect the people, youths, women, children and elders” who opposed military rule.

Myanmar has many ethnic groups and some have their own military forces, which have often clashed with the Myanmar Armed Forces. In the name of national unity, the latter has seized land and resources in the home states of these ethnic groups to benefit the generals.

In the recent past, some ethnic groups have signed peace with the government, while others continue to resist. A few days ago, the military clashed with the armed wings of certain ethnic groups.

On Saturday, three civilians were killed in a military air raid on a village controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), near the border with Thailand.

The raid was carried out in retaliation after the KNU’s armed force overran an army post, killing 10 people. As a result of the army’s operation, at least 3,000 Karen fled to Thailand.

Yesterday, the army also clashed with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the Hpakant area, famous for its jade mines, which the military want to seize. Kachin forces attacked a police station and the military responded with an aerial assault

The military of several countries, including Italy, have criticised the Myanmar Armed Forces for not following international standards for conduct.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union condemned last Saturday’s violence.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, called on the generals to stand down from what he called a “senseless path” of violence against their own people.