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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Feb. 23)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:05 February 23, 2021

Stop bloody crackdown
World should take firm action against Myanmar's military junta

It is appalling to see Myanmar's armed forces stepping up a bloody crackdown on citizens protesting the Feb. 1 military coup. Over the weekend, the country's security forces began to open fire on protesters, resulting in several deaths.

According to Myanmar's local media, thousands of demonstrators gathered to hold a disobedience campaign in Yangon. Hundreds of security forces fired live rounds and rubber bullets to disperse workers who were staging a walkout in a shipyard in Mandalay, Myanmar's second-largest city, Saturday, killing at least two and injuring around 30. The death toll increased to four as of Sunday.

More worrisome is that the troops were purportedly from the same unit that engaged in a massacre of the Rohingya people in 2017. A woman in her 20s, who was shot in the head Feb. 9 during a rally in the capital, Naypyidaw, died Friday, unable to be revived from a coma.

Protests have continued since the coup d'etat. Concerns are growing that the brutal crackdown may result in more bloodshed. To prevent tragic consequences from occurring, the international community needs to pay more attention to developments in Myanmar and apply more pressure on the military to undo its coup and restore civilian rule.

Despite the bloody crackdown, the security forces have largely failed to quell the demonstrations calling for the restoration of democracy in the Southeast Asian country. The military junta should bear in mind that it cannot reverse the march toward democracy which the Myanmarese started to end five decades of military dictatorship. It should respect the results of the November 2020 general election in which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won 83 percent of the seats up for grabs. It must stop its crackdown on demonstrators calling for democracy.

The United States and European Union have reacted promptly and strongly to the coup, expressing regret over the military's action and demanding that it immediately stop its bloody suppression. We urge other countries to join international efforts to condemn the junta in its bid to return to military rule.

Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement urging the military to refrain from using violence against protesters. Yet the Moon Jae-in government should take more proactive steps to help Myanmar restore civilian rule in collaboration with other countries. Most of all, the military should be held accountable for firing at unarmed citizens, which cannot and should not be condoned under any circumstances.

We strongly support the Myanmarese who are fighting bravely for democracy. They cannot forget that the military killed thousands of people in 1988 during their pro-democracy struggles; yet their aspiration for democracy seems to be too great to be suppressed by any bloody crackdowns.

The military junta has arrested more than 500 figures who participated in the disobedience campaign, and frequently shuts down internet connections. The international community should mobilize all possible means to stop the military's anachronistic actions immediately.
(END)

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