On Saturday (local time), the defensive defendants of twelve countries, including the Netherlands, condemned in a joint declaration the death of violence by the army against unarmed civilians. “A professional army follows international standards of behavior and is responsible for protecting, not harming, the people it serves,” they write.
The statement was issued by the Pentagon. Signatories are countries with, put together, quite a bit of military power: Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We urge the armed forces of Myanmar to cease violence and to work to restore respect and credibility to the people of Myanmar who have lost it through their actions,” says the statement.
According to witnesses and local media, security forces in Myanmar would have killed 114 people on Saturday, including some children. The United Nations called it the “bloodiest day” since the military seizure in February.
On Saturday, on the day of the armed forces, the army made several raids early in an attempt to nip the protest in the bud. State TV warned earlier this week that protesters can be shot ‘on the head and in the back’ — an unveiled threat.
More and more people in Myanmar are fleeing into the border areas, where they receive support from armed ethnic minorities such as the Karen, Kayin, Kayah, Shan and Mon. Citizens fear the involuntary raids. “We are nowhere safe,” says a woman near Dawei. “Many people have fled and hide in the woods.”
The former Dutch ambassador Laetitia van den Assum, former member of an advisory committee led by former UN boss Kofi Annan on Myanmar, spoke to De Cceit about ‘terrifying and rude violence’. “That violence was disproportionate; even machine guns were deployed and without respect of person. It was repulsive.”
The Myanmar Armed Forces Day, commemorating the beginning of the local resistance against the Japanese occupation during World War II, is usually accompanied by a military parade attended by foreign officers and diplomats. However, the junta has struggled to get international recognition since it took over control of Myanmar and said that eight international delegations were present at the parade Saturday. Among them would be China and Russia.
Read the brief statement by the International Defence Chef: