Chiefs of defence staff condemn use of lethal force against unarmed people in Myanmar
The United States, United Kingdom, Japan and South Korea signed and several other countries onto Sunday’s joint statement.
Chiefs of defence staff in twelve countries in a rare statement condemned the atrocities s committee by the Myanmar armed forces against unarmed civilians.
“As Chiefs of Defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services,” the statement says. “A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting — not harming — the people it serves. We urge the Myanmar Armed Forces to cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions.”
The release of the joint statement follows concerns voiced by other countries in the region, including recent remarks made by military leaders in Singapore and Indonesia. The Joint Statement also echoes the White House and U.S. State Department statements condemning the violence.
The military launched a coup d’etat in Burma on Feb. 1. The junta arrested the democratically elected government headed by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. They also arrested the ministers, deputies and members of Parliament. The military proclaimed a year-long state of emergency and declared Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as the government leader.
News reports from the Southeast Asian country indicate that thousands have been arrested since Feb. 1. The military has violently put down protests against the coup, and reporting indicates that over 350 people have been killed, including more than 20 children. This includes reports this past week that Burmese security forces shot a one-year-old in the eye with a rubber bullet and shot and killed a seven-year-old girl in her family home.
The violence came as the military staged a major show of might for its annual Armed Forces Day on Saturday.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the coup leader, said during a parade in Naypyidaw that the military would protect the people and strive for democracy. The general deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, alleging fraud in an election that returned her National League for Democracy to power last November.
The European Union’s delegation to Myanmar said that the 76th Myanmar Armed Forces Day “will stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour”
New US and European sanctions this week increased external pressure on the military. But Myanmar’s generals have enjoyed some support from Russia and China, both veto-holding members of the UN Security Council that could block any potential UN action.
Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fominattended Saturday’s military parade in Naypyidaw, having met senior military leaders a day earlier.
Diplomats said eight countries – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – sent representatives, but Russia was the only one to send a minister to the parade on Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of the resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945.
( Courtesy Al –Jazeera and other media reports)