Security forces in Myanmar killed at least 114 protesters on Saturday as demonstrations against the February 1 military coup that ousted Myanmar’s top government officials continued over the weekend.
The killings occurred during various pro-democracy rallies throughout Myanmar on March 27 and included several children age 16 and under, according to Henrietta Fore, the head of the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF).
“[A]n 11-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl, two 13-year-old boys, a 13-year-old girl, three 16-year-old boys, and two 17-year-old boys, (were) all reportedly shot and killed,” she said. “[A] 1-year-old baby girl [was] gravely injured after being struck in the eye with a rubber bullet.”
The protester deaths occurred on the same day that Myanmar’s military celebrated an annual holiday known as Armed Forces Day, complete with a parade in the national capital, Naypyitaw.
“Today the junta of Myanmar has made Armed Forces Day a day of infamy with the massacre of men, women, and very young children throughout country,” the U.N.’s independent expert on human rights for Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said in a statement.
“Words of condemnation or concern are frankly ringing hollow to the people of Myanmar while the military junta commits mass murder against them. … It is past time for robust, coordinated action,” he added.
Myanmar’s military junta has accused some of the country’s pro-democracy protesters of using Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, and bows and arrows to perpetrate violence against state security forces during demonstrations. The junta describes the protesters’ actions as violent rioting and says they justify the military’s crackdown on pro-democracy rallies.
“While protesters have occasionally hurled firecrackers at troops and on Saturday carried bows and arrows, they remain vastly outgunned and have shown commitment to methods of nonviolent civil disobedience,” the Associated Press noted on Monday.
Myanmar’s military seized control of the country in the early hours of February 1, detaining Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto prime minister, along with Myanmar President U Win Myint, and other senior Myanmar government officials in pre-dawn raids. The armed forces then declared a one-year state of emergency for Myanmar, ordering Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing to rule the country for the next 12 months.
The army said it was forced to seize power after Myanmar’s elected government failed to act on the military’s claims of election fraud during the country’s parliamentary polls in November 2020. Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party won the contested November elections to secure a majority of seats in Myanmar’s parliament. The army-supported Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) accused the NLD of committing voter fraud to win the election.