Myanmar’s ‘Black Wednesday’ stirs global reactions

By Subir Bhaumik
Kolkata, March 4 (IANS) Britain has called for an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss the fast-worsening situation in Myanmar after at least 38 protesters were killed in firing by security forces on Wednesday.

UN Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told mediapersons that 38 protesters were shot dead on Wednesday as security forces defied an international call for restraint and opened fire on protesters seeking a return to democracy in several cities of Myanmar.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said his country was ‘appalled and revulsed at the brutal violence by the Burmese military against its own people’.

Price asked China to push the Burmese military junta to stop the violence and pave the way for return of parliamentary democracy.

“China does have influence in the region. It does have influence with the military junta. We have called upon the Chinese to use that influence in a constructive way, in a way that advances the interests of the people of Burma (Myanmar),” Price said in a statement.

He said the US, which has imposed sanctions on junta leaders, was looking at further actions.

China has not reacted so far except saying it wants stability in Myanmar while India has called for ‘orderly democratic transition’ even as the ASEAN pushed for breaking the stalemate to bring back parliamentary democracy.

The ASEAN foreign ministers who met this week called for an end to the impasse caused by an arbitrary declaration of Emergency that paved the way for the military takeover.

Monywa, the capital of Myanmar’s Sagaing region bordering India, experienced the worst crackdown when security forces shot dead at least seven protesters.

A doctor who attended to the severely injured protesters said they were ‘all shot with live ammunition and at least seven died.’

But he was not willing to be identified for fear of retaliation by the military.

Other medical workers said they have seen two more dead protesters being dragged away by the military.

At least six protesters were shot dead on the outskirts of Yangon, Mynamar’s biggest city and one-time capital.

Rescue workers and local journalists said the protesters continued to block key roads and security forces fired live rounds to break the blockcades.

Near Yangon’s Sule pagoda intersection, protesters pasted print-outs of General Min Aung Hlaing’s face on the ground — a tactic aimed at slowing down security forces who avoid standing on their chief’s portraits.

In Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, two demonstrators were killed, a doctor said. One of the two was a teenager shot in the head, the doctor said, indicating the military was now shooting to kill.

Another 19-year-old protester died after being shot in Salin.

Reports of deaths have come in from Pyay, Dawei and several other cities that have become hot-bed of the anti-junta protesters after the Febuary 1 military takeover that denied Aung Saan Suu Kyi’s NLD party a second tenure in power.

Suu Kyi has been under house arrest in capital NayPhiDaw and briefly appeared via video-link in a court to face charges of violating Covid regulations and for possession of foreign-made walky-talky communication equipment.

Her lawyer said the junta is trying to keep her in prison on this charges that could get her a two to three year sentence, so that she cannot contest the polls once the military backed off and set the stage for fresh elections, which they have promised to do.

The military takeover was inspired by fears that Suu Kyi’s party, armed with a huge landslide (396/476) and support of ethnic parties (44/476) would move decisively to amend the military-drafted 2008 Constitution that gives the military control of three key ministries and 25 per cent of the parliament seats.

Some say army chief General Hlaing’s desire to be President also motivated the military takeover.

–IANS
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