Myanmar: Protests erupt again amid a show of force by coup leaders


Myanmar’s security forces have cracked down on new protests as the leaders of its coup marked Armed Forces Day.

Protesters took to the streets of Yangon and other cities, with reports that 16 had been shot dead.

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said in a national TV address on Saturday he would “safeguard democracy”, promising elections but giving no timetable.

More than 320 people have been killed in the suppression of protests since the coup on 1 February.

State TV warned in a separate broadcast on Friday that people “should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back”.

What did the coup leader say?

“The army seeks to join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy,” Min Aung Hlaing said in his live broadcast on Saturday.

“Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate.”

He added that the army had to seize power because of “unlawful acts” by democratically-elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy.

However, he did not specifically say that the military had been given shoot-to-kill orders. The junta has previously tried to claim that shootings have come from among the protesters.

Armed Forces Day commemorates the start of Myanmar’s military resistance against Japanese occupation in 1945.

The parade is usually attended by officials from other nations. However, it appeared that Russian deputy defence minister Alexander Formin was the only foreign official there.

“Russia is a true friend,” Min Aung Hlaing added.

The US, UK and EU have all imposed sanctions in response to the military coup. Myanmar and Russia’s defence ties have grown in recent years. In that time Moscow has provided training to thousands of soldiers, and has sold arms to the military.

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