Protesters in Myanmar are constantly being killed by the military, which has overthrown an elected government. More than 400 unarmed protesters have already been shot dead by the army. On Saturday, Armed Forces Day, 114 people, including women and children, were killed. According to international media reports, the army opened fire on a crowd at the funeral of 20-year-old student Maung, who died on Friday. Moreover, the army chief has ordered the firing as soon as he sees the protesters. The carnage comes after Army Chief of Staff General General Hong Hling announced that he would work for democracy and ensure the protection of the people during a parade in the capital, Naypyidaw, as part of the Armed Forces Day celebrations. After the massacre, the head of the military regime, General Min Ang Laying, and the generals organized a luxury party as part of the 76th Armed Forces Day celebrations.
Global nations, including Russia and China, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have strongly protested against the Myanmar military’s crackdown. In a joint statement issued by the defense ministers of Japan, South Korea, Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and New Zealand, Myanmar called on the military leadership to “end the violence and regain the dignity and credibility lost due to its own actions.” The European Union (EU) and the United States have announced sanctions against 11 senior military officials, including Myanmar’s Commander – in – Chief Min Aung Hsieng and Deputy Commander – in – Chief Soy Win.
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), was arrested by the military on February 1 on suspicion of rigging the November election in Myanmar. The NLD won 83 per cent of the seats. The military leadership accuses Suu Kyi of gaining a majority by artificial means and that there are no citizens in the country who do not vote more than once. They claim to have detected several cases of election irregularities. Some of Suu Kyi’s anti – democratic measures have aided the military, including the denial of voting rights to several minority tribes over local issues. Protests have been raging in the country since the military coup. The protesters demanded the dissolution of the military junta, the release of NLD leaders, including the imprisoned Suu Kyi, and the restoration of democratic rule.
Although the military leadership that seized power and declared a state of emergency has announced that it will hold elections a year later to give way to a democratic government, neither the Myanmar people nor the global community believe it. Or even if an election takes place, it may not be free or transparent. It is likely to be a farce to bring those who support the military to power.
The international community is currently deliberating on ways to bring Myanmar back to democracy. UN Special Envoy to Myanmar Tom Andrews has called on the United Nations to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. However, the UN Security Council will find it difficult to take action against Myanmar if Russia and China, two permanent members of the Security Council, veto the military. The United States and Western nations, which have consistently supported the Israeli army’s massacre in Palestine, have no moral right to question the inhumane stance of Russia and China.
ASEAN, a Southeast Asian organization, is also at a loss as to what to do. The Jakarta-based ASEAN in Myanmar joins Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. Since this organization is not accustomed to interfering in the internal affairs of member states, they can only be spectators to the Myanmar issue. Human Rights Watch has called on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to intervene and take strong action against the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military. But the solution to this problem is far from certain, as the UN Security Council’s veto power to enforce the orders of the ICJ, the UN body of justice, is subject to permanent veto power.