Yangon, 27 March 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Myanmar’s military celebrated Armed Forces Day with parades and speeches on Saturday, despite increasingly deadly and non-stop protests against its rule since last month’s coup.
The death toll rose by at least 50 on Saturday following overnight raids and nationwide protests across the country, local media outlets reported. Myanmar Now reported that more than 90 people in 40 cities had been killed.
Protests took place in large parts of the country, including the commercial metropolis of Yangon, northern Mandalay region and the southern city of Bago. Military personnel and police officers are said to have used live ammunition and were shooting to kill.
Among the victims was Chit Bo Nyein, a 21-year-old team captain from the Hantharwady United U-21 team, who was shot dead by the military’s armed forces on Saturday morning in Yangon while he was helping in his family’s tea shop in Insein township, neighbours told dpa.
British ambassador Dan Chugg said on Twitter that the security forces had “disgraced themselves by shooting unarmed civilians.”
“At a time of economic crisis, Covid, and a worsening humanitarian situation, today’s military parade and extrajudicial killings speak volumes for the priorities of the military junta,” Chugg wrote.
A broadcast on state news channel MRTV on Friday evening had issued a veiling warning that civilians should learn from the deaths of others that “you can be in danger of getting shot in the head and back.”
At least 328 have been killed in the protests since the February 1 coup while more than 3,000 have been arrested, according to the Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
Despite the growing death toll and threats, thousands of Myanmar residents are participating in regular protests, demanding that the government headed by Aung Sang Suu Kyi be returned to power.
The army has had her under house arrest since February 1. She is accused of a variety of crimes. Additionally, the army has alleged tampering in the November vote that saw her National League for Democracy (NLD) return to power, but has provided no proof.
The military’s commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, on Saturday reiterated a promise to hold elections as well as allegations that the NLD had acted unlawfully as big parades were held in Naypyidaw.
“The army seeks to join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy,” he said, adding that it also sought to protect the people and to restore peace across the country. “Violent acts that affects stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate.”
However, the ongoing protests show that a sizeable portion of the populace are not on board with the military’s version of the story.