United Nations Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener has confirmed that at least 38 people were killed in the country on Wednesday, making it the bloodiest day of protests so far.

Speaking at a virtual press conference, Ms. Burgener said that she had held discussions with the army about possible “strong measures” by UN member states and the Security Council, to which they responded: “We are used to sanctions and we survived the sanctions time in the past”. 

She continued, “I also warned they will go in an isolation”, to which they said, “we have to learn to walk with only few friends”. She also shed light on how the army was perplexed at the failure of their “textbook” actions in crushing dissent, like they did in 1988, 2007 and 2008.

“Today, we have young people who lived in freedom for 10 years,” said Ms. Burgener, adding, “They have social media, and…[are] well organized and very determined. They don’t want to go back in a dictatorship and in isolation. So, I think the army is surprised, and maybe we have to help them to come out of this situation.”

On February 1, 2021, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) launched a coup d’état deposing Myanmar’s democratically elected government leaders. The coup took place just a day before the Parliament was to swear in the members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party that won the November 2020 elections. The Tatmadaw declared a year-long emergency during which period all power is to be vested in Min Aung Hlaing, who is the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services. President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were subsequently detained, along with other ministers. 400 elected members of Parliament were placed under house arrest.

Ever since the coup took place, protests have taken place not only in the capital city of Naypyidaw, but also in Yangon, Mandalay, Dawei, Pathein and Chin. The protesters have remained peaceful, taking the hue of a civil disobedience movement, where people are demanding the release of elected leaders. But this has not prevented the military from violently cracking down on protesters.

The United States has been monitoring the developments closely and repeatedly expressed solidarity with the people of Myanmar. In a statement released on February 28, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had said, “The United States stands in solidarity with the people of Burma, who continue to bravely voice their aspirations for democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights. We will continue coordinating closely with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world to hold those responsible for violence to account, and to reinforce our support for the people of Burma. To that end, we are preparing additional actions to impose further costs on those responsible for this latest outbreak of violence and the recent coup. We will have more to share in the coming days.”

Pope Francis has appealed for peace.

*Feature image by Ninjastrikers via Wikimedia Commons.