Myanmar Security Forces Open Fire on Funeral Crowds, Protesters
It was another bloody, devastating weekend in Myanmar as security forces opened fire on a crowd attending the funeral of a student killed in protests against last month’s coup. Since military forces seized control of the country on 1 February, at least 459 civilians have been killed, according to activist group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. More than 110 people—including children—were killed on 26 March alone.
In a warning on 25 March, state television warned protesters that they were “in danger of getting shot to the head and back,” although the news report did not specifically state that security forces were given shoot-to-kill orders, according to Reuters. While the junta has accused protesters of inciting violence because of their sporadic use of Molotov cocktails, protesters have broadly remained committed to methods of nonviolent civil disobedience, such as marches, protests, and labor strikes, the Associated Press reports.
Witnesses told news agencies that security forces were opening fire indiscriminately, even at aid workers, and they used grenades to clear street barricades set up by demonstrators.
Military jets have also launched air strikes on a village in territory controlled by an armed guerilla group, Reuters reports. The strikes killed at least two people.
Thousands of people have fled across the border from Myanmar into Thailand following this weekend’s violence, according to CBS News. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that the government is preparing for a potential flood of refugees from Myanmar.
UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that “the shameful, cowardly, brutal actions of the military and police—who have been filmed shooting at protesters as they flee, and who have not even spared young children—must be halted immediately.” So far, 35 children have been killed by security forces since the coup.
The United Nations Security Council is likely to hold closed consultations on the escalating situation in Myanmar, although specific actions the council may take remain uncertain.
The United States announced a complete suspension of trade with Myanmar until a democratically elected government is restored.
“The United States strongly condemns the Burmese security forces' brutal violence against civilians," according to a statement from U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. "The killing of peaceful protestors, students, workers, labor leaders, medics, and children has shocked the conscience of the international community. These actions are a direct assault on the country's transition to democracy and the efforts of the Burmese people to achieve a peaceful and prosperous future.”