The acting leader of Myanmar’s civilian government, appointed by legislators who were removed following a military coup last month, says efforts are being made to give people the legal right to defend themselves amid the surging death toll in anti-coup protests across the country.
Mahn Win Khaing Than, the vice-president of the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) which is comprised of ousted senior officials from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), made the remarks in his first address to the public via Facebook on Saturday.
Myanmar has been gripped by turmoil since the military ousted de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 1 coup and detained her and several other senior figures from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and took control of the country.
Khaing Than promised to pursue a “revolution” to overturn the military junta.
“This is the darkest moment of the nation and the moment that the dawn is close. This is also a moment testing our citizens to see how far we can resist these darkest times.”
The head of Myanmar’s civilian government said the government would “attempt to legislate the required laws so that the people have the right to defend themselves” against the deadly military crackdown, which has so far claimed scores of lives.
During his address to the public, Khaing Than also urged anti-coup protesters to move with "invincibility" as the Southeast Asian country neared its seventh week under military rule.
The CRPH’s acting leader echoed the anti-coup movement's calls for a "federal democracy" that would allow ethnic minority groups to have a role in Myanmar's governance.
"This uprising is also the chance for all of us to struggle together hand-in-hand to establish a federal democracy union which we all ethnic brothers and sisters who have been suffering various kinds of oppression from military dictatorship have long desired," he said.
"The federal democracy union... is waiting for us in the near future if we move forward unitedly with invincibility," Khaing Than added. "We must win the uprising."
Advocacy group: Myanmar forces kill at least 38 on Sunday
Meanwhile, an advocacy group said later on Sunday that almost 40 people were killed by security forces during the day’s deadly clashes.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said Myanmar security forces killed at least 38 people on Sunday, 22 of them in the Hlaingtharyar district of Yangon.
The death toll would equal that of March 3, which had previously recorded more deaths than any other day.
Myanmar has been gripped by turmoil since the military ousted de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 1 coup and detained her and several other senior NLD figures to take control of the country.
The junta, which has declared a one-year emergency across Myanmar, claims 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 numerous protests against the coup leaders in the Southeast Asian country, demanding the release of Suu Kyi and other detainees.
Death toll exceeds 80 in anti-coup protests
Witnesses and local media reports said at least 13 people were killed on Saturday, one of the bloodiest days since the coup.
Five people were shot dead and several sustained injuries when police opened fire on a sit-in protest in Mandalay, Myanmar's second-biggest city.
Two people were killed in the central town of Pyay and two lost their lives in police firing in the commercial capital Yangon, where three were also killed overnight.
"They are acting like they are in a war zone, with unarmed people," said Mandalay-based activist Myat Thu. He said the dead included a 13-year-old child.
Si Thu Tun, another protester, said he saw two people shot, including a Buddhist monk, adding that, "One of them was hit in the pubic bone, another was shot to death terribly."
A truck driver in Chauk, a town in the central Magwe Region, died after being shot in the chest by police, a family friend said.
More than 80 people have so far been killed in widespread protests against the seizure of power by Myanmar’s military and over 2,100 people have been arrested, according to data from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.