Cities terrorised as junta escalates lethal violence against public on Armed Forces Day

One day after the junta threatened on state-run TV to shoot protesters “in the head or back,” at least 114 people, including a 13-year-old girl, had been killed by regime troops nationwide as of 9:30pm on Saturday in Myanmar.  

As junta leaders celebrated the 76th Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, people took to the streets on Saturday across the country to signify the occasion as “Anti-Military Dictatorship Day.”

March 27 commemorates the day in which the country began its armed resistance against Japanese occupation in 1945. 

In attendance at the Naypyitaw parade and ceremony was Russia’s deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin– who met senior junta leaders one day earlier– and representatives from China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, Nikkei Asia reported. Most ethnic armed organisations also rejected an invitation by the military to attend the event. 

In his 30-minute speech, leader of the country’s February 1 coup Min Aung Hlaing said the military would protect the people of Myanmar and strive for democracy. 

Meanwhile, the same armed forces shot and killed protesters in more than 40 cities across the country, creating the highest known death toll in a single day since anti-coup resistance began in early February. 

Myanmar Now has been able to confirm at least 16 deaths in Yangon’s townships, including Dala, Insein, North and South Dagon, Sanchaung, Hlaing and Thingangyun. 

At least four people were killed and several injured in the suburban township of Dala early Saturday morning when the regime’s troops opened fire on a crowd of protesters outside of a police station. They were holding a demonstration to demand the release of two women who had been arrested the day before.  

Four people were also killed in Insein during a protest crackdown on Saturday morning. One of the victims was 21-year-old Chit Bo Bo Nyein. He was shot in the left arm and died moments after arriving at the hospital. 

A one-year-old baby was wounded on Saturday after being shot in the eye with a rubber bullet in the Thamine area of Yangon’s Mayangone township. He had been playing outside in an area near where troops were located. 

In the northern Shan state city of Lashio, at least four people were confirmed to have been killed by the regime. 

At least 10 people were gunned down in attacks on anti-coup rallies held in towns across Mandalay region. Among them was a 13-year-old girl in Meikhtila who was shot in her house after the junta’s armed forces opened fire on residential areas of the city. 

At the time of reporting, Myanmar Now was unable to confirm further information about the deceased child. 

She is among the 20 minors who have been killed by the regime’s troops since crackdowns on protests began in Myanmar, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). The youngest victim was a seven-year-old girl, shot on March 23 in Mandalay.  

From its official Twitter account, UNICEF described Saturday’s bloodshed as marking “a tragic weekend for children.” The UN agency called for an immediate halt to the violence and for the perpetrators to be held accountable.

One of those murdered in Mandalay was architect Kyaw Win Maung, according to the Association of Myanmar Architects (AMA). He was shot in the chest, the association said.

Dozens of deaths were reported on Saturday in other towns, including Dawei and Kawthaung in Tanintharyi region; Monywa, Sagaing and Shwebo in Sagaing region; Myingyan and Sintgaing in Mandalay; Kyaikhto in Mon State; and Pathein in Irrawaddy region. 

Saturday’s casualties are in addition to the AAPP’s previous tally of 328 people killed by the military regime since the coup. 

The U.S. Embassy confirmed that shots were fired at the American Center in Yangon on Saturday but reported that no one was injured. The embassy tweeted that they were “investigating the incident.” 

The U.S. described the attacks throughout the country as “horrifying,” and called for “an immediate end to the violence and the restoration of the democratically elected government.”

“On Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, security forces are murdering unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they swore to protect,” the embassy’s statement said. “These are not the actions of a professional military or police force. Myanmar’s people have spoken clearly: they do not want to live under military rule.”

One day before the bloody crackdown, the junta warned protesters through a broadcast on MRTV that its armed forces would murder those who opposed them. 

“You should learn from the previous ugly deaths that you could be in danger of getting shot in the head or back,” the announcement said. 

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on the evening of March 27 to reflect an increase in the number of confirmed deaths as more information became available. Also added were references to statements on the violence that were released after the article was published. 

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