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Russia voices concern about civilian deaths in Myanmar

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Security forces stand guard on a road as people are arrested, next to dismantled barricades that were set up by protesters demonstrating against the recent military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar, on March 12, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has expressed concern about the increasing number of civilian deaths in Myanmar, stressing that it is following the developments in the Southeast Asian country “very closely.”

“We consider the situation concerning. We are worried about the information that we receive on the growing number of civilian fatalities. This causes concerns. We follow the developments very closely,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

This comes as reports said on Thursday that at least nine more protesters had been shot dead in Myanmar after security forces opened fire on demonstrations during the ongoing protests against the recent military coup.

When asked whether Russia planned to suspend military cooperation with Myanmar in light of the growing violence against peaceful protesters, Peskov said Moscow “is analyzing the situation.”

Myanmar has been gripped by turmoil since the military ousted the civilian government in a coup, detained officials from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, and took control of the country on February 1.

The junta, which has declared a one-year emergency across Myanmar, claimed that it seized power after it found fraud in elections held three months earlier that the NLD had won in a landslide.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have held protests against the coup leaders in the Southeast Asian country, demanding the release of the detained politicians.

Military forces have been using disproportionate force to quell the protests. More than 50 people have lost their lives and nearly 1,800 have been arrested so far, according to data from the United Nations (UN) and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group.

The United Nations Security Council has condemned the violent crackdown in Myanmar, but has not denounced the military takeover in the country as a coup.

Language condemning the takeover as a coup was dropped from a draft statement in part due to opposition by Russia.

A new report by Amnesty International has also revealed that the Myanmarese military has been using lethal tactics and an arsenal of battlefield weapons to carry out a “killing spree” against peaceful protesters.

Thomas Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, has said the country’s military is likely committing crimes against humanity in its heavy-handed crackdown on protesters. The UN expert has also called for imposing multilateral sanctions on the junta leaders.

Myanmar’s coup and the ensuing crackdown have drawn widespread international condemnation as well as targeted sanctions by some countries against top generals.

The junta has, however, shrugged off pressure by foreign countries.

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