Philippines-Myanmar relations

‘Profoundly dismayed’: PH calls for restraint in Myanmar after bloodiest day since coup

Sofia Tomacruz
‘Profoundly dismayed’: PH calls for restraint in Myanmar after bloodiest day since coup

OPPOSE. In this file photo, people flash a three-finger salute as they take part in an anti-coup night protest at Hledan junction in Yangon, Myanmar, on March 14, 2021.

File photo by Reuters

'The Philippines is profoundly dismayed at reports of excessive and needless force against unarmed protesters in Myanmar on Armed Forces Day,' says the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Philippines urged Myanmar’s security forces to cease from resorting to “disproportionate force” against civilians, following reports that hundreds were killed in the Southeast Asian country on Saturday, March 27. 

The crackdown, done on Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, was the bloodiest day for protesters since a February 1 coup saw the country’s military seize power from its democratically-elected government. 

In a statement on Tuesday, March 30, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was “profoundly dismayed” over reports that “excessive and needless force” was used against unarmed protesters who took to the streets over the weekend.

“We reiterate our call for security forces in Myanmar to exercise restraint and desist from resorting to disproportionate force against unarmed citizens,” it said. 

According to news reports and witnesses, children were among the 114 killed on Saturday.

The bloody crackdown drew renewed Western criticism and increased concern across the region, while the United Nations investigator said the army was carrying out “mass murder.”

Deaths were recorded from the Kachin region in the mountainous north to Taninthartharyi in the far south on the Andaman Sea – taking the overall number of civilians reported killed since the coup to more than 440.

The coup has caused unrest in Myanmar, which was under direct military rule for almost half a century until 2011. Since then, the army began a process of withdrawing from civilian politics, though it never gave up its overall control over the Suu Kyi civilian government after it won a 2015 election. 

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Across the region, Southeast Asian leaders have spoken out and expressed concern over the crisis in Myanmar but said it would “take time” to resolve. 

On Twitter, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said there was still “no intervention” from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but that the regional bloc’s principle of non-intervention “cannot be used to conceal crimes against humanity.”

“That would be tantamount to ASEAN complicity and consent,” Locsin said. 

On Tuesday, the Philippines reiterated that it would be “steadfast” in supporting a “fuller democracy” in Myanmar and once again called for the  immediate release of detained Myanmar civil leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders in the country. – with reports from Reuters/Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.