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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Myanmar's Junta Warns Protesters of Deadly Force Ahead of Armed Forces Day, Report Says

By VOA News March 26, 2021

Myanmar's military government reportedly has warned protesters they could be shot in the head during possible anti-coup demonstrations Saturday as the country observes Armed Forces Day.

The warning was broadcast on the Myanmar Radio and Television channel, according to Reuters.

"You should learn... that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back," the MRTV broadcast reportedly said.

Activists have called for more nationwide protests on Armed Forces Day, when the country's military might will be on display during its annual parade.

"The time has arrived again to fight the military's oppression, activist Ei Thinzar Maung wrote in a Facebook post.

The junta's warning came one day after nine people were killed in Myanmar, according to the daily report of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Demonstrators were out in force in a continued show of opposition against the ruling military junta, one day after Wednesday's "silent" strike left the streets of many cities across the country practically empty.

There were scattered reports of soldiers using force to break up protests in the southeastern city of Mawlamyine and in Hpa-An, the capital of southeastern Karen state. Soldiers also confronted protesters staging candlelight vigils across the country, with reports of at least one man shot and killed.

The AAPP said in the report that at least 320 people have been killed by military forces during the crackdown. One of those killed was a 7-year-old girl who was shot Tuesday when soldiers broke into her home in Mandalay, according to Myanmar Now and Reuters. The child was reportedly sitting on her father's lap when the soldiers broke in and demanded to know if everyone in the family was at home. The father said yes, but the soldiers accused him of lying and opened fire, hitting the girl.

The AAPP also said that more than 2,900 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced since the crackdown began. But more than 600 protesters were released Wednesday from Insein prison in the main city of Yangon in an apparent goodwill gesture by the junta. Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw, who was arrested while covering a street protest in Yangon along with eight other media workers, was among those released.

Agence France-Presse has reported that a Molotov cocktail thrown at the Yangon headquarters of the National League for Democracy party of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi caused a small fire.

AFP quoted Soe Win, an NLD member in charge of the headquarters, saying that "when the residents nearby knew about the fire, they called the fire service department to put it out ... it was under control by around 5 a.m."

The United States and Britain imposed sanctions on Myanmar's ruling junta on Thursday, blacklisting military-controlled businesses.

"Today the United States is taking its most significant action to date to impose costs on the military regime," said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in a statement Thursday.

The United States is designating two entities linked to the coup leaders, Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited. MEHL and MEC are the two largest military holding companies in Burma, and all shares in them are held and managed by current or former Burmese military officers, regiments, and units, and organizations led by former service members."

Blinken added that Britain would be taking similar actions against MEHL.

Farhan Haq, a spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, issued a statement Wednesday urging the junta to exercise "maximum restraint" as Armed Forces Day on March 27 approaches. He called for "accountability for all the crimes and human rights violations that continue to be perpetrated in Myanmar."

Suu Kyi is facing four criminal charges, including the possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies, violating COVID-19 restrictions, breaching telecommunication laws and incitement to cause public unrest. She has also been accused by the junta of accepting $600,000 in illegal payments.

Suu Kyi was scheduled to appear in court via videoconferencing Wednesday, but the session was postponed until April 1. Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer for Aung San Suu Kyi, told VOA that police blocked the thoroughfare that led to the courthouse, and only allowed two junior lawyers to enter. Khin said the judge told the two lawyers the video conferencing sessions on the docket could not take place.

Wednesday's appearance by Suu Kyi was originally scheduled for March 15 but was called off because of a lack of internet service. Authorities have imposed nightly internet shutdowns for several weeks to prevent any sharing of protests from across the country.

Junta leaders also justified their coup by saying the November 8 election won by Suu Kyi's NLD was fraudulent - an accusation the electoral commission rejected.

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