At least 82 people were killed on Saturday in Myanmar in crackdown on anti-coup protesters in a city in southern Myanmar, a sign that military forces are willing to use violence to quell Organized armed protest was growing over their rule.
The killings came as security forces tried to crush persistent resistance in Bago, a city about 100 kilometers south of the commercial capital Yangon. Based on some reports, the soldiers deployed weapons such as rocket launchers to clean up obstacles erected by protesters, they then piled up the corpses on the grounds of a Buddhist temple.
To its extent, the bloodshed in Bago was second only to the events of March 14, which saw the murder more than 100 protesters and bystanders by security forces in Yangon, and on March 27, where witnessed increased to 120. The number 82 is set up by the Association to Support Political Prisoners (AAPP), a civil society group that has announced daily numbers of people killed, detained and convicted since the beginning of the crisis. political panic. On Sunday, the AAPP said at least 706 protesters and bystanders have now been killed by security forces since the military took over on 1 February.
Based on Relevant pressThe assault on Bago was the military’s third attempt this past week that involved the use of mass force to try to crush organized opposition factions, including cases of armed protest. increasing.
Some of the strongest and most persistent resistance was witnessed in the Sagaing Region in northern Myanmar. According to the indispensable Frontier Myanmar, there are many incidents reported since the beginning of the month, including a police strike officer, who reported was killed His five comrades before being shot down in Tamu Town, and a separate grenade attack claimed the lives of 4 soldiers, also in Tamu.
On Saturday, Myanmar Now bring a report that locals in Tamu ambushed the army’s armed forces with homemade shotguns as they entered town to suppress Saturday’s protests. Residents said at least three soldiers and one local resident were killed in the incident.
In the Sagaing Regional Town of Kalay, activists claiming to be the Kalay Civil Army reported construction barrier all over the city streets and equip yourself with rudimentary shotguns. According to Frontier, protesters in Kalay last week even tried to get the security forces to agree prisoner exchange, releasing nine civilians in exchange for seven police officers arrested by the residents.
In response, there have been widespread allegations that security forces have graduated to Use heavy weapons in Sagaing and elsewhere, including rocket-launched grenades to disperse protesters. While confirmation is difficult, due to constant power outages on the internet in many areas of Myanmar, images have appeared on social media showing images of missile grenades and shrapnel. mortar.
The growing unstable political situation that emerged from the military’s perceived unreasonable coup has helped propel Myanmar’s economy closer to total collapse.
At the beginning of the month, Fitch Solutions, an affiliate of the global rating agency Fitch Ratings, revised its forecast for the fiscal year through September, it released a brief report predicting that Myanmar’s economy would shrink by a staggering 20 percent, compared with the previous forecast of the coup of 2 percent growth. Even then, it said, in the context of security forces suppressing civilians and battling ethnic armed groups, the risk to the revised forecast of the 20% decline “is still heavy. on the downside ”.
“We believe that increased social unrest in the country will paralyze all aspects of gross domestic product by expenditure,” Fitch said at the press conference. “There is no worst case for the economy that we can rule out.”
In its most recent economic forecast, the World Bank guess economic decline 10% by 2021. “The economy will collapse, destroying the lives of millions”, writer and historian Thant Myint-U told Bloomberg. Whichever direction the political situation evolves, he added, “Myanmar will not be able to recover for many more years”.
The bad economic situation partly reflects the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, and partly a conscious strategy of the Civil Disobedience Movement to tighten the military government by appealing to calling out to non-working public servants and private sector employees.
However, while the economy and much of the government were stagnant, the government still had a lifeline in the form of control over the country’s natural resources, including gas fields and mines of jade, precious stones and teak.
An indication of its importance was evident on Saturday, when Nikkei Asia reports a 10-day auction of gems, sapphires and pearls in the capital Naypyidaw brought the military government tens of millions of dollars in revenue. The report, citing Myanmar state media, said revenue from the sale of gems, pearls and sapphires in the auction reached millions of dollars per day, with jade sales alone. reported up to $ 6.4 million on Thursday.
The auction reportedly took place when the US Treasury Department added a Burmese state-operated jade supplier to its financial blacklist. The Biden administration has also blacklisted three military-related gem companies, as well tentacles controlled two military corporations Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation – are heavily involved in the extraction and trading of natural resources, as well as almost every other field Myanmar’s economy.
The latest sanctions mark an increase in the US government’s pressure on the military, but armed with abundant natural resources, it is still uncertain when – or even if – these sanctions will begin to change the army’s calculations.