Myanmar’s security forces opened fire on a funeral Sunday, a day after more than 100 people were killed during protests against the February military coup.
Mourners fled the funeral in Bago, near the commercial capital of Yangon, as the gunfire erupted, according to witnesses. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The funeral was held for 20-year-old Thae Maung Maung, who was one of roughly 114 people killed Saturday in the bloodiest day since the military junta seized power.
Defense chiefs from a dozen countries, including the United States, issued a rare joint statement Saturday condemning Myanmar’s use of lethal force against pro-democracy, unarmed people.
“A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting — not harming — the people it serves,” the statement said.
“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 statement released after the violence in the country on Saturday, is backed by defense chiefs from Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea and New Zealand.
Joint Statement of Chiefs of Defense Condemning Military-Sponsored Violence in Myanmar— The Joint Staff 🇺🇸 (@thejointstaff) March 28, 2021
As Chiefs of Defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the #Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services.
Full statement: https://t.co/0qMhIscibi
The United Nations condemned the actions of the military junta in Myanmar, with some branches urging the Security Council to hold members of the military accountable for their crimes.
“We must ensure accountability for past crimes and deter the most serious international crimes from being committed,” Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide, and Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said in a joint statement Sunday.
“The failure to address the atrocity crimes the military has committed in the past, including against Rohingya and other minorities, has brought Myanmar to this terrible pass. There is no way forward without accountability and fundamental reform of the military.”
“It’s terrible,” U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters Sunday. “It’s absolutely outrageous. Based on the reporting I’ve gotten, an awful lot of people have been killed. Totally unnecessary.”
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top diplomat, called on Myanmar's generals to stop the violence against their people.
"We will continue to use the EU's mechanisms, including sanctions, to target the perpetrators of this violence, and those responsible for turning back the clock on Myanmar's path of democracy and peace," Borrell said in a statement.
The Myanmar Now news site late Saturday reported the death toll of at least 114, with at least 29 people killed in the northern city of Mandalay, including a boy as young as 5. The Associated Press cited a Yangon-based independent researcher who put the toll at 107 — both numbers exceeding what activists have previously been reporting with a high of 90 killings on March 14.
Security forces killed civilians in the central Sagaing region, the eastern town of Lashio, the southcentral region of Bago, near Yangon, and in other parts of the country, according to news wires.
“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” said Thu Ya Zaw, a resident of the central town of Myingyan, where at least two protesters were killed, according to reports. “We will keep protesting regardless. We must fight until the junta falls.”
The military government further escalated the use of deadly force Saturday with fighter jets launching air strikes in an area near the Thai border controlled by an armed ethnic group dedicated to overturning the coup, according to Reuters.
The Karen National Union (KNU), an armed political group, said the jets attacked Day Pu Noe village about 8:00 p.m. local time (3:30 UTC), killing two people and forcing residents to take refuge elsewhere.
The KNU said earlier Saturday it killed 10 soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel, as it overran an army base.
The Myanmar government has not responded to requests for comment on the civilian killings or on reports of the KNU’s killing of soldiers at an army base.
In a show of force, the military regime held a massive parade in the capital, Naypyitaw Saturday to celebrate the 76th Myanmar Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of local resistance to the Japanese occupation during World War II.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy had led the country since its first open democratic election in 2015, but Myanmar's military contested last November's election results, claiming widespread electoral fraud, largely without evidence.
On February 1, they removed the NLD government, detaining Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. Martial law has been imposed in townships across Myanmar.