Twelve countries, including the Netherlands, have called in a joint statement on Myanmar to end the violence by the military against unarmed civilians. The statement, issued by the Pentagon, has been signed by the defense summits of several European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.
The defense chiefs condemn the violence against the Myanmar population in the strictest terms. “A professional army follows international standards of conduct and protects the people it serves, rather than harming them,” they write.
The United Nations speaks of the “bloodiest day” since the army seized power in the Southeast Asian country in early February. Secretary General Guterres says he is “very shocked” by the recent violence. The UN rapporteur in Myanmar calls on the international community to isolate the military junta, including by halting oil and gas trade with the country.
According to US Secretary of State Blinken, the coup plotters prove with the recent violence that they are “willing to sacrifice the lives of many to keep a few in the saddle”.
At least 114 people were killed in Myanmar yesterday, according to witnesses and local media, after security forces targeted demonstrators. Young children were also killed. The army command warned earlier this week that protesters would be shot in the head if they took part in the protests against the military rulers.
The brutal violence took place on Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the resistance against the Japanese occupier in World War II. Diplomats from various neighboring countries are said to have been present at the military parade. Russia was the only country to send a minister to the memorial.
For the time being, Russia and China have not commented on the recent violence in Myanmar. As long as the military regime has support from the two countries, sanctions by the UN Security Council are out of the question.
Last week, the US, the UK and the EU already imposed sanctions on their own against high-ranking military personnel, among others. EU member state Hungary disapproved of the sanctions, but did not block their imposition.
The Myanmar coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said in a speech yesterday that he would not change his course. According to him, the military is actually ensuring that democracy in the country is safeguarded after the “illegal actions” of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. She is the democratically elected leader of the country, but was pushed aside by the army after her election victory.
The coup leader also promised the population new elections, but he did not say when they should take place.