UN official says Myanmar's military junta is committing 'mass murder'

UN official says Myanmar’s military junta is committing ‘mass murder’ after 114 pro-democracy protesters were shot dead by security forces as thousands return to the streets and mourners attend victim’s funeral

  • The UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar said ‘words are not enough’ while the junta ‘commits mass murder’ against people in Myanmar
  • Tom Andrews called for the international community to take stronger action against the country’s ruling military
  • His comments came after more than 100 people were killed by security forces on Saturday – the bloodiest day since a February 1 coup
  • Demonstrators were back on the streets on Sunday in Yangon and Mandalay as mourners gathered at the funeral of one of those killed on Saturday 

A United Nations official has accused Myanmar’s military of committing mass murder after security forces shot and killed more than 100 people on Saturday.     

Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar reiterated calls for the international community to do more to stop the bloodshed, saying ‘robust, coordinated action’ is required as ‘words are not enough’ to protect people’s lives. 

‘Words of condemnation or concern are frankly ringing hollow to the people of Myanmar while the military junta commits mass murder against them,’ he said. 

‘The people of Myanmar need the world’s support.’ 

At least 114 people were killed on Saturday as security forces cracked down on protests against a military coup last month, according to online news service Myanmar Now. 

Several children under 16 were reported to be among the dead in what was the bloodiest day since protests began on February 1.

Similar death tolls were issued by other Myanmar media and researchers, far exceeding the previous highest on March 14.

The number of killings since the coup is now more than 420, according to multiple counts. 

A United Nations official has accused Myanmar’s military of committing mass murder after security forces shot and killed more than 100 people on Saturday. Pictured: A protest in Yangon on Sunday

At least 114 people were killed on Saturday as security forces cracked down on protests against a military coup last month, according to online news service Myanmar Now. Pictured: A protest in Yangon on Sunday

Several children under 16 were reported to be among the dead in what was the bloodiest day since protests began on February 1. Pictured: A protest in Yangon on Sunday

Protesters took to the streets again on Sunday in Myanmar’s two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay, and elsewhere on Sunday. 

Some were again met with police force as protesters made makeshift barricades from tyres and other debris.

Pictures showed streets blocked with flaming barricades in Yangon and people marching in the south-eastern city of Dawei.   

Sunday also saw the funeral of Kyaw Win Maung, an architect who was among those killed in the northern city of Mandalay on Saturday. 

The man was shot and killed by police during a protest against the military takeover. The Association of Myanmar Architects said he had been shot in the chest. 

Kyaw was laid to rest draped in the flag of the National League for Democracy, the party of Myanmar’s toppled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested along with other officials on February 1. 

Some of those attending the funeral raised a three-fingered salute, adopted from The Hunger Games film franchise, which has become a symbol of defiance in protest movements across Asia.  

Sunday also saw the funeral of Kyaw Win Maung, an architect who was among those killed in the northern city of Mandalay on Saturday

Kyaw was laid to rest draped in the flag of the National League for Democracy, the party of Myanmar’s toppled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested along with other officials on February 1 

Some of those attending the funeral raised a three-fingered salute, adopted from The Hunger Games film franchise, which has become a symbol of defiance in protest movements across East Asia

News of the deaths on Saturday prompted calls for the international community to take stronger action against Myanmar’s ruling military junta, known as the Tatmadaw.

Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group set up by deposed lawmakers called Myanmar’s military leaders ‘murderers’ and begged for ‘real action’ against them.

‘Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,’ Sasa told an online forum on Saturday.  

‘They [the military] should not have access to the international arms market, to financial institutions nor development assistance. Please, do all in your power to block all funding, business and access to financial markets in your jurisdiction,’ he said.

‘How many more of us need to die before you turn from your incremental response to real action?’ 

Kyaw was shot and killed by police during a protest against the military takeover. The Association of Myanmar Architects said he had been shot in the chest

News of the deaths on Saturday prompted calls for the international community to take stronger action against Myanmar’s ruling military junta, known as the Tatmadaw. Pictured: The funeral of Kyaw Win Maung in Mandalay on Sunday

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was shocked by the killings of civilians, including children on Saturday, when protests coincided with the annual Armed Forces Day holiday and parade in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw.

‘The continuing military crackdown is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified & resolute international response,’ he wrote on Twitter.

In the United States, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet that his country is ‘horrified by the bloodshed perpetrated by Burmese security forces, showing that the junta will sacrifice the lives of the people to serve the few’.

‘On Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, security forces are murdering unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they swore to protect. This bloodshed is horrifying,’ Thomas Vajda, US Ambassador to Myanmar, said in a statement. 

‘These are not the actions of a professional military or police force. Myanmar’s people have spoken clearly: they do not want to live under military rule.’ 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was shocked by the killings of civilians, including children on Saturday, when protests coincided with the annual Armed Forces Day holiday and parade in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw. Pictured: Protesters march in Dawei on Sunday

The military chiefs of 12 nations issued a joint statement condemning the use of force against unarmed people.

‘A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting – not harming – the people it serves,’ it said.

‘We urge the Myanmar armed forces to cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions.’ 

The statement was issued by the defence chiefs of Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Human rights group Amnesty International revived criticism that the international community is not doing enough to end the state violence in Myanmar. 

The military chiefs of 12 nations issued a joint statement condemning the use of force against unarmed people. Pictured: A protest in Yangon on Sunday

The UN Security Council has condemned the violence but not advocated concerted action against the junta, such as a ban on selling it arms. Pictured: A Protest in Yangon on Sunday

‘UN Security Council member states’ continued refusal to meaningfully act against this never-ending horror is contemptible,’ said Ming Yu Hah, the organisation’s deputy regional director for campaigns.

The Security Council has condemned the violence but not advocated concerted action against the junta, such as a ban on selling it arms.

China and Russia are both major arms suppliers to Myanmar’s military as well as politically sympathetic, and, as members of the council, would almost certainly veto any such move. 

The coup reversed years of tentative progress towards democracy after five decades of military rule and has again made Myanmar the focus of international scrutiny. 

In recent days the junta has portrayed the demonstrators as the ones perpetrating violence for their sporadic use of Molotov cocktails.

On Saturday, some protesters in Yangon were seen carrying bows and arrows.

The junta has said its use of force is justified to stop what it has called ‘rioting’. It claimed it took power on February 1 because the results of November elections, in which the Suu Kyi’s NLD won by a landslide, were fraudulent.

This claim has been dismissed by Myanmar’s election commission. 

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