Myanmar bloodshed 'absolutely outrageous', US working on sanctions: Biden

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of AmericaUpdated: Mar 29, 2021, 07:18 AM IST


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Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, triggering mass protests demanding a return to democracy.

US President Joe Biden has decried the bloodshed unleashed against anti-coup protesters in Myanmar as "absolutely outrageous," after security forces killed more than 100 people including at least seven children on a single day.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, triggering mass protests demanding a return to democracy.

On Saturday, at least 107 people were killed across Myanmar as security forces opened fire on protesters -- even as the junta celebrated the annual Armed Forces Day. According to a local monitoring group, the death toll from crackdowns since the coup has climbed to at least 423.

"It's absolutely outrageous and based on the reporting I've gotten, an awful lot of people have been killed totally unnecessarily. It's terrible," Biden Sunday told reporters in brief remarks he gave in his home state of Delaware.

Asked whether the US would respond with sanctions, Biden said "we are working on that now."

The European Union described the deadly violence as "unacceptable".

"Far from celebrating, the Myanmar military has made yesterday a day of horror and of shame," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

On Saturday, the defence chiefs of at least 12 countries including the United States, Britain, Japan and Australia denounced the Myanmar military.

"A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting -- not harming -- the people it serves," the rare joint statement 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."

Protesters hit the streets again Sunday in parts of Yangon including Hlaing, and in the cities of Dawei, Bago, Myingyan and Monywa. State-run media confirmed two men and two women were killed at Monywa on Sunday.

There was also a death in Myingyan -- one woman was killed and two others injured, a medic said. 

A day earlier there were brutal military crackdowns at more than 40 locations across the country. The Mandalay and Yangon regions saw the majority of deaths, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Funerals were held Sunday for some of the victims, after the bloodiest day since the putsch.

In Mandalay, the family of Aye Ko, a father-of-four, commemorated his life at a service after he was killed overnight.

The UN put Saturday's death toll at 107 people –- including seven children –- but expected it to rise further.

"The shameful, cowardly, brutal actions of the military and police –- who have been filmed shooting at protesters as they flee, and who have not even spared young children –- must be halted immediately," United Nations envoys Alice Wairimu Nderitu and Michelle Bachelet said in a joint statement.

Meanwhile, rebels in eastern Myanmar's Karen state said they had been targetted in air strikes late Saturday, hours after the ethnic armed group seized a military base.

An ethnic Karen and human rights activist said three people were killed and at least eight injured.

It was the first air assault in 20 years in the state, and targetted the Fifth Brigade of the Karen National Union (KNU) -- one of the country's largest armed groups -- which says it represents the ethnic Karen people.

Further air strikes on Sunday sent 2,000 people from two villages in Karen state darting through the jungle across the border into Thailand seeking safety.

A grand parade of troops and military vehicles in the capital Naypyidaw on Saturday saw junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing defend the coup and pledge to yield power after new elections.

(with inputs from AFP)