The Myanmar military turned its guns on unarmed protesters in dozens of cities and towns this past weekend, killing at least 126 people across the country as it attempts to break the back of the opposition to its seizure of power in a coup on February 1st. Saturday was “Armed Forces Day” in Myanmar, and the military marked the occasion by slaughtering scores of civilians, including children.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” said Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for a group of ousted elected officials who say they represent Myanmar’s government. The killings also drew condemnation from countries around the word, including the United States, Britain and the European Union.
“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,” said the U.N. Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in a joint statement.
“The international community has a responsibility to protect the people of Myanmar from atrocity crimes,” they added.
President Biden also condemned the killing.
“It’s absolutely outrageous, and based on the reporting I’ve gotten, an awful lot of people have been killed totally unnecessarily,” he told reporters on Sunday.
The widespread killings came after military-run television threatened protesters Friday with getting “shot in the back and the back of the head” if they persisted in opposing military rule. Many of the victims were bystanders, families and witnesses said.
Biden may truly believe the killings are outrageous, but don’t expect the United States to do anything other than perhaps leveling more economic sanctions as a result.
Besides opening fire on the ground, the Myanmar military also launched air strikes against one of the few armed groups in the country. The Karen National Union says jets struck at a village in the southwest part of the country, sending thousands of civilians fleeing across the border into Thailand.
“They bombed the area… The villagers from that area said two dead and two injured,” a spokesperson for civil society group Karen Peace Support Network said, adding that communication was difficult in the remote region and there could be more casualties.
A spokesman for the junta did not answer phone calls seeking comment.
The reported air assault is the most significant attack for years in the region. The KNU had signed a ceasefire agreement in 2015 but tensions surged after the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government on Feb.1.
As we’ve previously reported, Myanmar has strict gun control laws in place that have left the vast majority of citizens unarmed and unable to legally acquire a firearm, even before the military ousted the civilian government back in February. The Karen National Union and a few other ethnic groups have been able to illegally acquire some firearms over the years, but the state enjoys a near monopoly on armed force, and it’s now wielding that force against its own citizens.
Peace is always preferable to war, but fighting back is preferable to being slaughtered by your own government, which is what we’re witnessing in Myanmar right now.
It may be too late for the citizens of Myanmar to legally get armed to defend themselves against a tyrannical government willing to crush dissent by shooting protesters in the back of the head, but the slaughter is a grim reminder of just how important it is to protect the right to keep and bear arms here in the United States. An armed citizenry is the ultimate check against the establishment of tyranny, and it’s why I’ll never comply with any order or demand by my government to give up my rights and disarm myself… even if anti-gun lawmakers like Eric Swalwell threaten to nuke civilians who don’t comply.
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