Military chiefs from US and its allies condemn Myanmar crackdown

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Mar 28, 2021, 08:22 AM(IST)

Anarchy in Myanmar Photograph:( Reuters )

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According to Reuters, the joint statement released this weekend is a rare declaration by the most senior military commanders from countries around the world, including in Asia and Europe.

The military chiefs of a dozen countries including the United States, Britain, Japan and South Korea joined together Saturday to condemn Myanmar's use of lethal force against unarmed civilians.

According to Reuters, the joint statement released this weekend is a rare declaration by the most senior military commanders from countries around the world, including in Asia and Europe.

It came after news reports and witnesses said Myanmar security forces killed 114 people on Saturday, including some children, on Armed Forces Day -- the bloodiest day of its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since last month's military coup.

While the statement did not explicitly condemn the February 1 coup, which ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government, it said that a professional military must follow international standards for conduct "and is responsible for protecting - not harming - the people it serves."

Also read | Myanmar: Over 100 protesters killed by security forces in single day

"As Chiefs of Defence, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services," read the draft statement -- signed by 12 chiefs of defense from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, United Kingdom and the United States.

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

"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."

Diplomats from these countries have already condemned the bloodshed by Myanmar's military, making the statement largely symbolic. Myanmar's military has so far ignored criticism of its violent crackdown on dissent.

The draft statement added the country's military must "cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions."

Myanmar's military has said it took power because November elections won by Suu Kyi's party were fraudulent, an assertion dismissed by the country's election commission. Suu Kyi remains in detention at an undisclosed location and many other figures in her National League for Democracy party are also in custody.

Meanwhile, new US and European sanctions this week has already increased external pressure on the junta. But Myanmar's generals have enjoyed some support from Russia and China, both veto-holding members of the UN Security Council that could block any potential UN action.

Diplomats said eight countries - Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand - sent representatives to the Armed Forces Day parade, but Russia was the only one to send a minister.

The deaths on Saturday, Myanmar's annual Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945, would take the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to more than 440.

(with inputs from agencies)

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