Dozens Are Gunned Down in ‘Day of Shame’ for Myanmar

The Four Percent


On the eve of a major military celebration, Myanmar’s army warned people not to come out to protest or they could be shot “in the back,” or in the head.

But turn out they did on Saturday, and they were met with brutal force. At least dozens were killed, and perhaps more than 100, in what appeared to be the worst day of violence in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 military coup.

Many of the victims were bystanders. Among those shot and killed were a 5-year-old boy, two 13-year-old boys and a 14-year-old girl. A baby girl in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, was struck in the eye with a rubber bullet. Her parents said she was expected to live.

As of Friday, the security forces had killed more than 320 people since the nationwide street protests against the coup began, with thousands more imprisoned. The Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, a rights group based in Myanmar and Thailand, said it had documented 90 killings on Saturday, adding that “the actual number of fatalities is likely much higher.”

Myanmar Now, a respected news site, reported that 114 people had been killed across the country.

“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for a group of elected officials who say they represent Myanmar’s government, said in a statement. The killings also drew worldwide condemnation, including from the United States, Britain and the European Union.

Among more than 3,000 people who have been detained by the military since the coup are the ousted civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the president, U Win Myint. Their party, the National League for Democracy, won by a landslide in November.

In his speech to the assembled troops, which was broadcast on national television, General Min Aung Hlaing noted that the Tatmadaw was founded by Gen. Aung San, a national hero. He did not mention that the general was Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s father.

On Saturday, the United States ambassador to Myanmar, Thomas Vajda, said the security forces were “murdering unarmed civilians, including children,” and he called the bloodshed “horrifying.”

The widespread killings on Saturday came a day after military-run television threatened protesters with being “shot in the back and the back of the head” if they persisted in opposing military rule.

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, which has tracked arrests and killings since the coup, about a quarter of those killed as of Friday had been shot in the head.

The bloodshed on Saturday took place in more than two dozen cities across the country.

In Meiktila, a city in central Myanmar, 14-year-old Ma Pan Ei Phyu was at home when the security forces began firing randomly in the neighborhood, said her father, U Min Min Tun. The family did not hear the shot that killed her, and they didn’t realize that she had been hit until she fell to the floor.

In Yangon, Maung Wai Yan Tun, 13, was playing outside when the police and soldiers arrived. Scared, he ran away and was shot, his mother told the online news outlet Mizzima. The family went to recover his body, but finding it surrounded by security forces, they dared not approach.

Soon after, neighbors gathered outside the police station and demanded their release. The police responded by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at the crowd, one witness said.

The residents retreated but returned to the police station after midnight. This time, after a lengthy standoff, the security forces opened fire with live ammunition. At least 10 people were killed and 40 injured.


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