The Irish Times view on repression in Myanmar: murder by the military

The brutal escalation of repression by the military is a reflection of the desperation of a regime with little support beyond its own socially isolated and ideologically drilled ranks

Anti-coup protesters run around their makeshift barricade they burn to make defense line during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sunday. Photograph: AP

Anti-coup protesters run around their makeshift barricade they burn to make defense line during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sunday. Photograph: AP

 

On Saturday, Armed Forces Day, Myanamar’s military celebrated the strength of their army in blood. In the capital, Naypyitaw, troops paraded ceremonially before a few diplomatic and military envoys from “friendly” countries. On the streets they killed 107 people, some protesters, others bystanders, including at least six children between 10 and 16, many caught up in random shootings.

Thirteen more died on Sunday, some at the funerals of those who fell the day before. Since their February 1st coup, security forces have killed 459 people and detained more than 2,559, according to human rights observers. Dozens of young protesters have been killed by single gunshots to the head and security forces have fired at ambulances and tortured detainees.

Meanwhile airstrikes against the minority Karen and Kachin people have pushed thousands of villagers into the forests. Thousands of refugees have crossed into Thailand and India – 700 arrived in north-eastern India, including, according to local media, policemen who defected after defying orders to fire into protesting crowds.

The brutal escalation of repression by the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, is a reflection of the desperation of a regime with little support beyond its own socially isolated and ideologically drilled ranks. The army is a privileged state within a state, utterly convinced of its duty to defend a Buddhist Bamar ethnic majority rule in Myanmar. Yet they have seen mass civil disobedience continuing to defy the guns, and strikes crippling the economy. The call for revolution is finding an increasing echo among young people, some of whom have already begun to arm themselves.

The UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar says the army is carrying out “mass murder” and calls on the world to isolate the junta and cut access to weapons and funding from oil and gas. It is crucial that Ireland on the UN Security Council supports immediate enforcement of an arms embargo against Myanmar and the referral of military leaders including General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, to the International Criminal Court.

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