The US embassy in Myanmar condemned the junta for “murdering” civilians on Saturday as the military celebrates its Armed Forces Day.
“Security forces are murdering unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they swore to protect,” said a statement released on the embassy’s Facebook page.
“These are not the actions of a professional military or police force.”
It came after news reports and witnesses said Myanmar security forces killed 114 people on Saturday, including some children, on Armed Forces Day – the bloodiest day of its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since last month’s military coup.
Global military commanders condemn violence
The United States and nearly a dozen of his counterparts have condemned he deadly use of force by Myanmar’s security forces on Saturday.
“As Chiefs of Defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services,” read the draft statement obtained by Reuters.
It was signed by 12 chiefs of defense from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, United Kingdom and the United States.
Diplomats from these countries have already condemned the bloodshed by Myanmar’s military, making the statement largely symbolic. Myanmar’s military has so far ignored criticism of its violent crackdown on dissent.
While the draft statement did not explicitly condemn the coup, which ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, it said that a professional military must follow international standards for conduct “and is responsible for protecting – not harming – the people it serves.”
It said the country’s military must “cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions.”
Myanmar’s military has said it took power because November elections won by Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, an assertion dismissed by the country’s election commission. Suu Kyi remains in detention at an undisclosed location and many other figures in her National League for Democracy party are also in custody.
The deaths on Saturday, Myanmar’s annual Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945, would take the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to more than 440.
New U.S. and European sanctions this week increased external pressure on the junta. But Myanmar’s generals have enjoyed some support from Russia and China, both veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council that could block any potential U.N. action.
Russia’s deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin attended a parade in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw on Saturday, having met senior junta leaders a day earlier.
Diplomats said eight countries – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – sent representatives to the Armed Forces Day parade, but Russia was the only one to send a minister.