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Myanmar junta chief vows to crush opposition

March 27, 2023

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said the junta needed to "tackle" the underground National Unity Government at a military parade. He promised to hold elections once the state of emergency ends.

A close-up shot of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing spoke at a military parade on Armed Forces DayImage: Aung Shine Oo/AP Photo/picture alliance

The leader of Myanmar's military junta vowed on Monday to continue a crackdown against opposition groups that formed after the coup that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi.

During a speech to mark Armed Forces Day, Senior General Min Aung said the military would take "decisive action" against lawmakers who were ousted by the military in 2021 and formed their own National Unity Government (NUG), aided by the People's Defense Forces (PDF) and allied ethnic minority militias.

"The terror acts of the NUG and its lackey so-called PDFs are needed to be tackled for good and all," Min Aung Hlaing said at a military parade in the capital, Naypyidaw.

"The [military] and the government also need to take action against this terrorist group, trying to devastate the country and killing the people."

Min Aung Hlaing promised to hold "free and fair elections" once the current state of emergency is lifted.

In February, the military extended the state of emergency by six months and admitted it did not control enough territory for a vote to take place.

What is the situation in Myanmar?

More than 3,100 people have been killed in the military's crackdown on dissent since the 2021 coup, according to a local monitoring group.

The ruling junta has been accused indiscriminate killings of civilians and other war crimes.

United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk has called situation in Myanmar is a "festering catastrophe."

Opposition groups hold sporadic protests

Armed Forces Day is an annual public holiday that commemorates the start of local resistance to the Japanese occupying forces during World War II.

Myanmar's state media showed women lining the streets holding flowers near the military parade in Naypyidaw, which included around 8,000 soldiers.

However, there were reports of scattered protests around the country.

Min Aung Hlaing at the military parade
Around 8,000 soldiers joined the military parade in NaypyitawImage: Aung Shine Oo/AP Photo/picture alliance

Independent online media reported that at least three bombs exploded in the country's biggest city, Yangon, on Monday morning.

The pro-democracy Yangon Revolution Force said it also protested Armed Forces Day by performing a ritual at a Buddhist pagoda placing a curse on Min Aung Hlaing. Myanmar's military leaders are known to be highly superstitious.

In the Sagaing region in the northwest, a stronghold of armed resistance, people also held small protests against the junta on the pubic holiday.

zc/fb (AFP, AP)