Myanmar: Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing vows to 'safeguard democracy'

Brenda Watkins
March 29, 2021

The ruling junta in Myanmar staged Saturday a major show of might for the annual Armed Forces Day that included a huge military parade attended by delegations from China and Russian Federation.

The deaths of 91 protesters on Saturday comes in addition to the 328 killed by the junta since the start of the coup, according to figures released Friday by theactivist group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The night before, state television warned protestors not to go out or risk being shot in the head or the back.

In Yangon, the country's largest city, meanwhile, mourners flashed the three-finger salute as they wheeled the coffin of a 13-year-old boy.

After presiding over a military parade in the capital Naypyitaw, Myanmar's military leader Min Aung Hlaing reiterated a promise to hold elections, without giving any time-frame. "Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate", Hlaing said.

The army has cracked down on an uprising demanding a return to democracy since generals ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February. The regime's gunmen also opened fire for no reason on a civilian vehicle carrying a woman and children in the afternoon, killing a man and wounding the driver.

Irish citizens living in Myanmar have been advised to leave the country as at least 114 protestors were killed by security forces.

Millions of people in the country have protested the military takeover, including throngs of peaceful protesters taking to the streets throughout the country on an nearly daily basis, defying the junta's attempts to terrorize the population.

In a parade-day speech bearing no trace of irony, the junta chief portrayed Myanmar's military as "a guardian of democracy".

On Saturday, at least 107 people were killed across Myanmar as security forces opened fire on protesters.

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The military, in an attempt to stem the flow of information, has been restricting access to the internet since February 1.

Suu Kyi, Myanmar's most popular civilian politician, remains in detention at an undisclosed location.

Last week, the USA, the United Kingdom and the European Union imposed sanctions against high-ranking military personnel, among others. Its data shows that around a quarter of them died from shots to the head, raising suspicions they were targeted for killing.

The junta did not immediately comment, and there was no official confirmation of any casualties.

Unlike other media outlets covering the coup, the state-run channel has claimed that armed people were among demonstrators said to be shooting at soldiers and police, and these purported armed protesters had caused the soldiers of the junta to shoot and kill the ralliers.

In reaction to Saturday's killings, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' spokesperson said Guterres, "condemns in the strongest terms the killing of dozens of civilians, including children and young people, by security forces in Myanmar" and urged the military to refrain from violence and repression, in a statement issued on March 27.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was "deeply shocked" by what took place.

"A failed state in Myanmar has the potential to draw in all the big powers - including the US, China, India, Russia, and Japan - in a way that could lead to a serious worldwide crisis", he wrote on Twitter.

The junta continues to be unfettered as they continue to have support from Russian Federation and China- permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

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