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the army marches in the capital, new demonstrations repressed

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                The Burmese army has engaged in a major military parade in the capital Naypyidaw on the occasion of the "day of the armed forces".  In the rest of the country, new protests were severely repressed killing at least four people. 

                                    <p>A show of force.  On the occasion of the "day of the armed forces", the Burmese army paraded on Saturday March 27 an impressive arsenal in the capital Naypyidaw.  At the same time, new pro-democracy protests have been harshly suppressed in several cities across the country, killing at least four people. 

Pro-democracy activists called for a new series of demonstrations on Saturday, the day when the army organizes a gigantic military parade every year in the capital Naypyidaw, in front of the army chief now head of the ruling junta, the General Min Aung Hlaing.

In the early hours of the day, thousands of soldiers, tanks, missiles and helicopters followed one another on a huge esplanade where a crowd of generals and their guests gathered, including Russian and Chinese delegations. General Min Aung Hlaing again defended the organization of the coup d’etat due to alleged electoral fraud in the November elections, which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won, and vowed that a “transfer of state responsibility “would occur after elections.

“The Tatmadaw (the Burmese army, editor’s note) seeks the commitment of the whole nation”, he declared in a speech, adding that the acts of “terrorism which can harm the peace and the security of the ‘State’ are unacceptable. “The democracy we want would be an unruly democracy if the law was broken and not respected.”

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At least four dead

Before dawn, security forces had already cracked down on protesters in Yangon, the economic capital of the country, while a student rally in Lashio, northeast Shan state, saw the police and soldiers open fire on the crowd. “People had not started to demonstrate, no slogan had been uttered. The army and police arrived and shot them with live ammunition without issuing any warning,” Mai Kaung Saing told AFP. , a local journalist.

A rescuer confirmed that at least three protesters were dead, corroborating local media reports, but his team were unable to remove the bodies. “Our rescuers tried to get them out when they were shot, but there was so much shooting,” he said.

By midday, violence had broken out in several parts of the country. In Yangon, plumes of smoke rose above the city, which has become a hotspot for unrest in recent weeks. A pre-dawn rally, where protesters wore bicycle helmets and were protected by sandbag barricades – escalated when soldiers began shooting at protesters. “One of them was shot in the head and died in hospital,” a protester told AFP at the scene, adding that security forces were still roaming the area and firing indiscriminately.

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“Do not die in vain”

Ei Thinzar Maung, one of the figures of the anti-coup protests, urged the population to take to the streets on Saturday. “I pray everyone to be safe tomorrow,” she posted on social media. “We will win this!” “The time has come to fight against military oppression,” she insisted.

Security forces have cracked down on protests against the coup in recent weeks with increasingly deadly force, using tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disrupt rallies.

State television broadcast a message on Friday evening calling on young people to stop participating in a “violent movement.” “Learn the lesson from those who died after being shot in the head and back … do not die in vain,” the message read.

320 people have died in the unrest since the coup, and more than 3,000 have been arrested, according to a political prisoner advocacy group. Yangon’s infamous Insein prison on Friday released 322 people held in protests, adding to the more than 600 released earlier in the week.

The protest movement also included general strikes and civil disobedience by officials, which hampered the smooth functioning of the state. This infuriated the authorities, who carried out nightly arrests of people suspected of supporting the movement.

With AFP


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