Myanmar coup: At least 38 dead on ‘bloodiest’ day since military seized power, says UN

Security forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters across Myanmar, day after neighbouring countries called for restraint and offered to help resolve the crisis

Police stand in formation blocking a main road in Mandalay, Myanmar, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Myanmar security forces cracked down on anti-coup protesters in the country’s second-largest city Mandalay on Friday, injuring at least three people, two of whom were shot in the chest by rubber bullets and another who suffered a wound on his leg. AP

Yangon: At least 38 people died Wednesday in the “bloodiest” day of Myanmar’s crisis, the United Nations said, as the military junta defied growing international condemnation of its coup with a violent crackdown that the US said left it “appalled and revulsed.”

Myanmar has been in turmoil since 1 February when the military ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ending the nation’s decade-long experiment with democracy and sparking daily mass protests.

International pressure is mounting: Western powers have repeatedly hit the generals with sanctions, Britain has called for a United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday, and after Wednesday’s deaths, the United States said it was considering further action.

But the junta has so far ignored the global condemnation, responding to the uprising with escalating strength.

“Only today, 38 people died,” UN envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told reporters on Wednesday, adding that more than 50 people had died in total since the military takeover, with many more wounded.

“Today was the bloodiest day since the coup happened,” she noted, without providing any further details, including a breakdown of the deaths.

She called for the UN to take “very strong measures” against the generals, adding that in her conversations with them, they had dismissed the threat of sanctions.

“I will keep going on, we will not give up,” she said.

The violence left the United States “appalled and revulsed,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said, telling reporters: “We call on all countries to speak with one voice to condemn the brutal violence by the Burmese military against its own people.”

He singled out China, a frequent US adversary that Myanmar’s military has historically considered its main ally.

“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,” Price said, using another name for Myanmar.

And he said the United States, which has imposed sanctions on junta leaders, was looking at further actions.

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