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PROTESTERS have described a “genocide” being carried out by the military junta with at least 80 people reportedly killed by security forces during a crackdown in the city of Bago.
Eyewitnesses warned that the real death toll is likely to be much higher with the military taking away the bodies of those killed.
According to those on the ground, soldiers opened fire indiscriminately on a demonstration in Bago, the main city of Yangon province.
News of the massacre took a whole day to emerge as hundreds were forced to flee, with heavy weapons used against anything that moved.
Protest organiser Ye Htut told the Myanmar Now news organisation that the killings took place on Friday, with many taking shelter in Bago’s surrounding villages.
“It is like genocide. They are shooting at every shadow,” he said.
At least 600 people are known to have been killed since the military seized control in a coup on February 1, but the real death toll is unlikely to be established, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group.
The military claimed that November’s parliamentary election, which was won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), was subject to fraud, despite presenting no evidence to back their claims.
Military leader Major General Zaw Min Tun has denied that the power grab is a coup, insisting that the generals are “safeguarding” the country while it investigates a fraudulent election.
In an interview with CNN last week he blamed the deaths on “riotous” protesters, a narrative that the country’s army continues to press despite footage showing security forces firing on civilians.
The junta initially promised to hold elections after a one-year state of emergency ended, but Maj-Gen Zaw appeared to indicate that the military could remain in power beyond that.
He said the state of emergency could be extended for an additional “six months or more” over two terms and “if the duties are not done yet.”
On Friday ousted MPs and Myanmar’s UN ambassador called on UN security council members to take action against the military, including extending sanctions and imposing an arms embargo and no-fly zone.
The UN meeting was also warned that Myanmar was “on the brink of state failure.”
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