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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia warns sanctions against Myanmar's junta could spark civil war

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 06 April 2021 9:33 AM

Russia has warned against imposing sanctions on Myanmar's military, saying punitive measures could spark a full-blown civil war in the Southeast Asian country following the recent coup there.

International powers have sought to slap sanctions on the Myanmarese military as its forces have engaged in a brutal crackdown on protesters.

People have been out on the streets since the military ousted the government of de facto leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi and imprisoned her and other political leaders on February 1.

More than 570 people have been killed by security forces since then, advocacy group the Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said on Tuesday.

Security forces have arrested close to 3,500 people, with about four-fifths of them still being in detention, according to the AAPP.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday that punitive measures would "push the Burmese towards a full-blown civil conflict."

"A course towards threats and pressure, including the use of sanctions against the current Myanmar authorities, has no future and is extremely dangerous," said the spokesperson.

The military has sought to justify the coup by alleging that Suu Kyi's party won elections in late 2020 by rigging votes.

On Tuesday, protesters took to the streets in the country's biggest city, Yangon, to mark the deaths of hundreds of "martyrs."

Thy sprayed red paint on roads, pavements, and bus shelters, writing, "The blood has not dried."

Meanwhile, pictures of striking workers marching for a second day in the city of Mandalay were shared on social media by those who were able to access internet as the junta has shut down web services.

The military has also stepped up a crackdown on the autonomy-seeking ethnic minority groups that have announced their support for the anti-coup protests.

Last week, the junta launched airstrikes on the positions of the Karen National Union (KNU) forces. Media reports say about 20 people were killed in the strikes.

The KNU, which signed a ceasefire with the government in 2012, says the "non-stop bombings and airstrikes" have targeted "unarmed civilians" in their homeland along the border with Thailand.

Myanmar's regional neighbors also agreed on Monday to hold a meeting over the crisis, according to Brunei, the chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

No date was set for the meeting, though.

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