At least 50 people were shot and killed on Saturday in Myanmar during a brutal crackdown on anti-coup protesters as the military junta celebrated Armed Forces Day, news reports and witnesses said.
Protesters against the February 1 military coup came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other towns, defying a warning that they could be shot “in the head and back”.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” Dr Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group set up by deposed lawmakers, told an online forum.
“The military generals are celebrating Armed Forces Day after they just killed more than 300 innocent civilians,” he said.
At least four people were killed when forces opened fire at a crowd protesting outside a police station in Yangon’s Dala suburb in the early hours of Saturday, Myanmar Now reported. At least 10 people were wounded, it added.
Three people, including a young man who plays in a local under-21 football team, were shot and killed in a protest in the Insein district of the city.
Thirteen people were killed in different incidents in Mandalay, Myanmar Now said. Deaths were also reported from the Sagaing region near Mandalay, Lashio town in the east, in the Bago region, near Yangon, and elsewhere, it said.
Myanmar Now said a total of at least 50 people were killed on Saturday.
After presiding over a military parade in the capital, Naypyitaw, to mark Armed Forces Day, Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing reiterated a promise to hold elections, without giving any time frame.
“The army seeks to join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy,” the general said in a live broadcast on state television, adding that authorities also sought to protect the people and restore peace across the country.
“Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate.”
The number of people killed in the turmoil since the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government is now nearly 380, based on Thursday’s toll and a tally kept by an activist group.
STERN WARNING: Earlier on Friday, in an ominous warning broadcast on state television the junta said protesters were “in danger of getting shot to the head and back.”
The warning did not specifically say that forces had been given shoot-to-kill orders but the junta has previously tried to suggest that some fatal shootings have come from within the crowds.
But it showed the military’s determination to prevent any disruptions around Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of the resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945 that was orchestrated by Suu Kyi’s father, the founder of the military.
Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s most popular civilian politician, remains in detention at an undisclosed location. Many other figures in her party are also being held in custody.