Myanmar: Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing vows to 'safeguard democracy'

Myanmar: Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing vows to 'safeguard democracy'

Demonstrators hold placards and a cutout with the image of Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, February 15, 2021.

The European Union's delegation to Myanmar said on Twitter: "This 76th Myanmar armed forces day will stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour".

The military was trying to stifle protests before Armed Forces Day on Saturday, the AAPP said. The Myanmar Now news portal said 91 people had been killed in total across the country by 2:30pm.

To protect themselves from violence, some activists have come up with creative ways to protest, including staging "human-less" rallies, using objects or dummies in place of people.

Thirteen people were killed in various incidents in Mandalay, Myanmar Now said.

It said the dead included 10 in the country's second-biggest city, Mandalay, 9 in the nearby region of Sagaing and 16 in the commercial capital Yangon.

Conditions in Myanmar were deteriorating and likely get much worse without an "immediate, robust, global response in support of those under siege", he said, calling for an emergency summit on the crisis.

Reuters could not independently verify the numbers killed. A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment.

In a televised speech before thousands of soldiers at a massive parade ground at the capital Naypyitaw on Saturday, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing referred to "terrorism which can be harmful to state tranquility and social security", and called it unacceptable. "Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate", Hlaing said.

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The latest deaths will add to a toll of 328 people killed in the crackdown that has followed the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government, according to a tally kept by an activist group.

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A broadcast on the state MRTV news channel said: "You should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back".

But it showed the military's determination to prevent any disruptions around Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of the resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945 that was orchestrated by Suu Kyi's father, the founder of the military.

The junta detained Suu Kyi on the day of the takeover. Many other figures in her party are also being held in custody.

In a week that saw global pressure on the junta ramped up with new USA and European sanctions, Russia's deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin attended the parade in Naypyitaw, having meet senior junta leaders a day earlier.

And in a week that saw global pressure on the junta ramped up with new USA and European sanctions, Russian Federation offered support for the military and said it wanted to strengthen ties.

There were no signs of officials from other countries, although worldwide guests are usually present at the parade.

"Every corner of the streets are being burned down", he warned. Yesterday's protests followed a day of "silent strikes" on Wednesday that left the streets of Yangon and other major centres deserted.

The warning was widely taken as a threat because a great number of the fatalities among protesters have come from being shot in the head, suggesting they have been targeted for death.

"They shot all the people along the road while they chased to arrest protesters on motorbikes", he told AFP, saying security forces were still indiscriminately shooting in the area. In contrast, security forces have used live ammunition for weeks against what have still been overwhelmingly unarmed and peaceful crowds.

"The democracy we desire would be an undisciplined one if they pay no respect to and violate the law", he said. "If they continue to shoot at protesters and bully the people, I think all the ethnic groups would not just stand by and do nothing".

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