The United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday it fears that the military clampdown on protests in Myanmar since the February 1 coup risks escalating into a civil conflict like that seen in Syria and appealed for a halt to the ‘slaughter’.
UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said in a statement 3,080 had been detained and there are reports that 23 people have been sentenced to death following secret trials.
“I fear the situation in Myanmar is heading towards a full-blown conflict. States must not allow the deadly mistakes of the past in Syria and elsewhere to be repeated,” Bachelet said.
Meanwhile, opponents of military rule in Myanmar cancelled traditional new year festivities on Tuesday and instead showed their anger with the generals who seized power through low-key displays of defiance and small protests across the country.
A Myanmar activist group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, says the security forces have killed 710 protesters since the ouster of an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Protesters were out again on the first day of the five-day New Year holiday, known as Thingyan, which is usually celebrated with prayers, ritual cleaning of Buddha images in temples and high-spirited water-dousing on the streets.
“We do not celebrate Myanmar Thingyan this year since over 700 of our innocent brave souls have been killed,” said one Twitter user named Shwe Ei.
Women wearing fine clothes for the most important holiday of the year protested in several towns holding traditional pots containing seven flowers and sprigs that are displayed at this time, media pictures showed.
Many people painted the protesters’ three-finger salute on their Thingyan pots.
“People’s power, our power,” women marching on a street in the main city of Yangon chanted as passersby clapped, video posted by the Myanmar Now media group showed.
In some places, people set out dozens of Thingyan pots daubed with messages such as ‘Save Myanmar’ in silent shows of opposition to the military.
There were no immediate reports of violence at any of the protests but information has become scarce because of the junta’s curbs on broadband internet and mobile data services.
(With inputs from agencies)