MYANMAR: ANOTHER DAY, MORE BLOODSHED


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As we have been reporting in the Trends Journal, since 1 February, tens of thousands of protesters in Myanmar have taken to the streets to fight for democracy after a military coup overturned recent election results and arrested the civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who reportedly won by a landslide this past November.
The protesters – many of them young people – face an emboldened police force backed by the military. 
CNN, citing the independent Myanmar Now news outlet, reported protesters experienced their bloodiest day on Saturday after at least 114 were killed in more than two dozen cities across the country. 
The killings on Saturday included a 13-year-old girl who was shot inside her home after government forces fired indiscriminately into residences in the Mandalay region, CNN reported. A boy, about five years old, was also counted as one of the casualties in the region. The report said about 20 minors have been killed since protests broke out in the country.
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a nonprofit, put the death toll in the country at about 328 before Saturday’s crackdown.
Saturday’s killings prompted 12 defense chiefs, including those from Denmark, Australia, the U.K., Germany, Italy, and the U.S. to issue the following statement: 
“As Chiefs of Defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services. A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting—not harming—the people it serves. 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.”
The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar and the European Union also condemned the killings.
“On Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, security forces are murdering unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they swore to protect. This bloodshed is horrifying,” Thomas Vajda, the U.S. Ambassador to the country, said, according to CNN.
The AP reported the country’s military marked its Armed Forces Day holiday with a parade in the country’s capital. Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, who has taken control of the country, said during the parade in Naypyitaw that the military would work to protect the country’s citizens and work toward democracy. The AP reported he did not refer to the protests during his nationally-televised address.
The junta claimed widespread election fraud in the country’s November elections that handed Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party with sweeping victories.
The military justified the killings by blaming demonstrators due to their occasional use of Molotov cocktails and “rioting.” The AP reported that protesters in Yangon were seen brandishing bows and arrows. 
Since the overthrow began, hundreds of thousands have been protesting in cities across the country, and work strikes have jeopardized commerce, shipping, and the general economy. 
Economic Devastation
The World Bank recently reported that the country’s economy is expected to contract by 10 percent in 2021, which is in stark contrast to its prediction in October that the country’s GDP could grow by 5.9 percent, according to Reuters.
The CNN report said the country’s state television warned residents they risked being shot in the head or back if they took to the streets in weekend protests. The warning seemed to many to be a threat because so many protesters who have been killed had been shot in the head.
“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” Thu Ya Zaw, a protester, told Reuters. “We’ll keep protesting regardless… We must fight until the junta falls.
TRENDPOST: While nations such as the U.S., the U.K., and others condemn the military action taken against the citizens of Myanmar, most of these countries have slaughtered millions in their ongoing Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and other wars they have launched and/or supported. 
Thus, their acts of murder are committed in the name of bringing freedom and democracy to regimes they wish to overthrow and whose countries they want to control, mostly to steal their natural resources. 
TREND FORECAST: We maintain our forecast that military rule will continue in Myanmar, and threats by the U.N., the United States, and other nations will achieve nothing in terms of bringing so-called “Democracy” to the country. 
Furthermore, the stronger outside countries pressure the Myanmar government – be they in sanctions or supporting rebel movements – the greater the ruling government will strengthen its ties with its Chinese neighbor.
Russia announced last week that it hoped to strengthen military ties with Myanmar after top military officials met in Naypyitaw a day before the parade. Reuters said the meeting “is the firmest sign yet of Russia’s support for the new military rulers in Myanmar.”
Russia and China have been the largest source of arms for Myanmar since 2008, providing $835 million and $1.5 billion, respectively, according to the Financial Times.
A representative for the campaign group “Justice for Myanmar” told Reuters they are “appalled” Russian officials would “legitimize the illegal military junta.”
Alexander Fomin, the Russian envoy, met with Min Aung Hlaing, Chairman of the State Administration Council of Myanmar, and assured him that Moscow was “committed to a strategy aimed at bolstering relations between the two countries.”
The FT reported Russia’s defense ministry issued a statement that addressed Moscow and Naypyitaw’s “rapidly developing mutually beneficial relations in the military sphere” and that they “reaffirmed their intention to make the most of the existing potential in order to deepen military and military-technical co-operation in the spirit of strategic partnership.”

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