Denouncing Myanmar’s militaryMyanmar sank in blood over the weekend after security forces opened fire against protesters to the military coup and its seizure of power on Sunday. The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) projected that at least 18 were killed and 30 wounded. Local media reported 19 confirmed and 10 unconfirmed deaths across Yangon and other cities.
A woman in her 20s who was shot in the capital of Naypyitaw on Feb. 9 died 10 days later and at least two were killed in a deadly clash in a shipyard in Mandalay on Feb. 20. More than 30 died and 1,000 have been arrested in a month.
The use of armed forces and arbitrary arrest by the military must stop. The forceful crackdown on the protest will only cause more tragedy. The military must accept the reality that democracy aspirations cannot be quenched with force. Firearms cannot bring down conviction. The Tatmadaw, or military, were in command of Myanmar for more than half a century. The people resist going back under the military regime. They finally had a civilian leadership through the deadly revolt in 2007 which led to general elections in 2015 and 2020. The party led by Aung San Suu Kyi dominated the 471-seat upper and lower houses by sweeping 396 in the election in November last year. The coup on Feb. 1 could represent the fear of the military of losing power.
The international community must answer to the Burmese people’s question on how many more dead bodies are needed to bring UN action. The United States, European Union and United Nations have all condemned Myanmar’s military. International sanctions and resolutions must follow. Washington has set out to package sanctions on the country after blacklisting key figures and the EU will likely follow suit.
Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued statements three times to urge a restraint in use of force. It raised the tone by condemning the deadly crackdown on Feb. 28. Seoul must be more assertive, given the liberal government’s pride in the democratic legacy. It must urge more aggressive international actions.