At least nineteen people were killed on Saturday in the crackdown on new pro-democracy protests in Burma, where the army engaged in a show of force, parading an impressive arsenal in the capital Naypyidaw.
The European Union and Great Britain have condemned the “murders” committed by the military in the country, which has been going through a serious crisis since the head of the civilian government Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted from power in a military coup on February 1.
Pro-democracy activists called for a new round of demonstrations on Saturday, when the army annually organizes a gigantic military parade in front of the army chief now head of the ruling junta, the General Min Aung Hlaing.
In the afternoon, as protests continued across the country, AFP was able to verify that at least nineteen people had been killed, with local media reporting a much higher death toll. heavy.
Violence erupted throughout the region of Mandalay (center) when security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least nine people in four different towns, including a doctor in Wundwin and a 14-year-old girl in Meiktila, according to rescuers on the ground.
A Myingyan, a protester who saw a man killed after being shot in the neck, said the death toll is likely to rise. “Today is like a day of revolution for us,” he said.
In eastern Shan State, security forces opened fire on a gathering of students in Lashio. A rescuer confirmed that at least three protesters were dead, corroborating local media reports.
In Nyaung-U near Bagan, a famous UNESCO site, a tourist guide was shot dead while participating in a demonstration.
In Yangon, the economic capital, plumes of smoke have risen above the city, which has become a hot spot in recent weeks.
A nighttime rally outside a police station in the south of the city – where protesters called for the release of their friends – turned violent, according to a resident.
At least six protesters died, including a 20-year-old boy, according to testimonies.
Near Insein prison, a pre-dawn rally – where protesters wore bicycle helmets and were protected by sandbag barricades – descended into chaos when soldiers began shooting.
At least one of them was killed – a 21-year-old policeman, Chit Lin Thu, who had joined the anti-coup movement.
“He was shot in the head and died at home, said his father Joseph. _I am extremely sad for him, but at the same time, I am proud of my son. ”_ Also in Meiktila (center), two demonstrators are said to have been killed.
The brutality of the repression has resulted in a series of international condemnations and sanctions affecting the assets of many powerful military personnel, including their leader, but diplomatic pressure has so far had little impact.
L’European Union and the United Kingdom condemned the “murders” committed by the army.
“This 76th day of the armed forces will be remembered as a day of terror and dishonor. The killings of unarmed civilians, including children, are indefensible acts”, the European Union embassy in Yangon announced on Twitter and Facebook, while the British ambassador said in a statement that “extrajudicial killings say a lot about the priorities of the military junta”.
In the early hours of the day, thousands of soldiers, tanks, missiles and helicopters had followed one another on a huge esplanade of Naypyidaw where was gathered an audience of generals and their guests, including Russian and Chinese delegations.
General Min Aung Hlaing again defended the organization of the coup over alleged electoral fraud in the November elections, won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, and vowed that a “transfer of state responsibility “would occur after elections.
320 people have died in the unrest since the coup, and more than 3,000 have been arrested, according to a political prisoner advocacy group.