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Myanmar's rampant killing of civilians must stop: The Daily Star editorial

DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – In a recent brutal crackdown on unarmed, civilian protestors, on March 27 – also the country’s Armed Forces Day – the Myanmar military junta killed 114 people, including many children.

The killings came as protestors in Yangon, Mandalay and other cities took to the streets demanding restoration of democracy in the country following the infamous February coup. We condemn the killing of civilians by the Myanmar junta in the strongest possible terms.

The spiralling violence in Myanmar is a grave concern not only for Bangladesh but for the region as a whole, as protracted political instability in the country will have ripple effects on the stability of the region in the medium to long run.

Case in point: the continued exodus of the Rohingya to Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries, to escape persecution at the hands of the Myanmar military. The killing of the protesters on the country’s Armed Forces Day and with foreign delegates from Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, visiting Myanmar to mark the parade, is a reflection of the belligerent ruthlessness of the Myanmar military.

Dr Sasa of Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, called it a “a day of shame for the armed forces”. In view of the escalating situation in Myanmar, the world powers must take proactive measures to get the Myanmar military to come to the negotiating table to end this mayhem.

The sanctions imposed on the two major conglomerates of the Myanmar military- Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Ltd (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Ltd (MEC)-by the US and the UK is a significant development.

The sanction by the US not only freezes the assets of the holdings along with those of the top military generals, but also prohibits US citizens and companies from conducting financial transactions or trade with these two conglomerates.

We hope the targeted sanctions on the main economic lifelines of the Myanmar military will curb their financial muscle and force them to rethink their political strategy.

We also urge the major regional players including China and India to play a more proactive role in taking initiatives to diffuse tensions in the country before the situation gets out of control. The Myanmar military needs to be engaged in dialogue with the political leaders of the country and the people to restore democracy by accepting the election results, as this is the only way out of this conflict.

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The Myanmar military has over the decades repressed its people and persecuted the minorities. Even during the regime of a civilian government, the Rohingya community could not be protected from the wrath of the country’s military.

The brutality of the Myanmar junta must be brought to an end for an inclusive and thriving Myanmar and a peaceful, prosperous region.

The Daily Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.

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