Myanmar has seen its bloodiest weekend since the military coup at the beginning of February.
Soldiers and police set about their hateful work on Saturday—Armed Forces Day—and across the country slaughtered more than 100 people.
Some of the dead were young protesters trying to turn the day of military parades into “Revolution Day” instead. But many who died were bystanders or people in their homes who were randomly hit by soldiers’ bullets.
For the regime, there are no innocents among the civilian population. At least four children, ranging from five to 15, were among the weekend’s dead.
Bloodshed came to the Dala Township, a small town downriver from Yangon. Here eight people were shot dead in the early hours of Saturday morning. A crowd had gathered outside a police station there demanding that cops release two women detained after a protest the previous morning.
Residents in Yangon’s Insein township frantically tried to build barricades against the police during the night. But at dawn the police came in shooting, killing four people and seriously injuring many more.
A nurse that provided medical assistance said that not only protesters were slain. A drinking water deliveryman and other bystanders were either shot dead in the head or abdomen—and that many were wounded as attacks continued in neighbouring areas and townships.
“They are devils. How can a human being behave like this? I can’t even find any proper words to describe their brutality,” she said.
Local people fought back with whatever came to hand, from broken bricks to slingshots and petrol bombs. Barricades of tyres were set ablaze in a desperate bid to keep the troops out.
On Saturday evening security forces burned alive a neighbourhood watch member after he was injured by their gunfire. Soldiers raided the Mintae Eikin area of Mandalay and shot U Aye Ko. Junta forces then dragged him away and set him on fire at a roadblock.
Elsewhere in the city the military torched 40 houses in the city’s Pyigyitagon township. Soldiers fired shots to stop neighbours from helping put out the fires.
In Lashio, the largest town in the northern Shan state, three more protesters were killed. They were shot in the head and chest when police and soldiers opened fire on demonstrators.
“We could not retrieve the dead bodies,” a charity worker told the Irrawaddy website. “They dragged the bodies and the injured people onto a military truck.”
The regime’s ever-increasing brutality is surely a sign of its desperation. The huge wave of workers’ strikes have paralysed Myanmar’s economy and brought the country to the brink of civil war.
But the regime could at least seek the assurance of friends at its Armed Forces Day parade. Representatives of the Chinese, Russian and Indian governments all attended.
For their part, the European Union and the US issued strongly worded statements of condemnation.
For the world’s big powers, the struggle in Myanmar is important only as part of a strategic game. China, which borders the country, wants it to remain as a loyal ally and not fall into the hands of the West.
The US, meanwhile, would be only too pleased to have a client state in such an important geographic position.
That’s why protesters fighting for a truly democratic Myanmar should not put their faith in the US or the United Nations.
The heroic resistance of those on the streets and those on strike are the only powers that revolutionaries can trust.