JURIST EXCLUSIVE – A true reign of terror descended on Myanmar Saturday as the country’s military junta killed over 100 of its citizens in their own streets and homes as military leaders ostentatiously marked “Armed Forces Day” with a mass parade and a dress dinner in the official capital, Nay Pyi Taw. Loss of life was highest in Mandalay and Yangon, but ranged across regions. In Mandalay, police and soldiers cracked down on protesters and pushed into barricaded neighborhoods, shooting as they went and later burning the barricades. Some fires got out of hand and black smoke covered the city from late afternoon.
In Yangon, law students reporting for JURIST described repeated explosion and weapons fire, and said at one point that postings of deaths and injuries on local online media were too numerous to count. As the day wore on, Western embassies and the UN Mission in Myanmar issued statements deploring the violence and specifically condemning the military for completely undisciplined and professional behavior on its own holiday.
In both Yangon and Mandalay, law students reporting for JURIST repeatedly described themselves as scared and frightened, as on several occasions during the day police came to their doors or police and soldiers shot and killed citizens in the streets outside. This is how one message from Yangon started in the early morning, Myanmar time:
Today is started with many bad news, in other townships and regions. Terrorists are everywhere in almost all cities. Now in North Dagon, they are chasing the protesters, checking every street and also burning the barriers on main road of north dagon. A lot of things are happening right now, sir.
The same law student said later:
Whenever I hear the dogs’ bark, I’m just like ‘ are they coming, are they in my street, what are they gonna do? In the previous days, I thought it’ll be rare they come and check to every street, and I also thought there is only a few percent that terrorists come to my house’ But as my today morning experience, they can be in front of my house anytime, and I feel scared, sir. And also today cases make me feel so bad and sad at the same time. I believe almost everyone in Myanmar, also my friends, they don’t feel safe everyday, they are in pain whenever they see the bad news, sir. I can sympathize with families who lost their loved ones, their family members. I really feel sorry for them. They don’t deserve this at all. We can imagine how much they will be sad right now.
In Mandalay, another said:
We’re scared of the darkness because we’ve been there and seen what’s inside that darkness. Like you said before, we’re dreamers! We don’t have a backup plan. I’ve never thought about losing this.
Yet another gave a chilling running commentary in the late afternoon:
It is really a battle ground in almost everywhere
Just In front of my house
I think at least 7 people were shot and I witnessed with my eyes carrying the injured persons with motorbike.
I am so frightened and now total 15 soldiers are in front of my house.
4 or 5 young people were arrested
Now, we are staying quietly and hiding in the house
Dozens of similar fire on many streets
Now, the whole city is in war zone.
Now, I heard that in the whole country, over 100 people died and thousands of people were injured
Not just in Mandalay, in the whole country. Everywhere is war zone.
The terrorists are opening fire and shooting
13 years old child died by gun shot and the father is crying and saying that my son died, my dead died!!
It was in Sheebo, Sagaing. The child was only in the house and the bullet through his body
Now, I am crying out loud. I don’t want to stay in current situation. If I could kill them, these terrorists, I am willing to be a suicide bomber.