At least 39 people were murdered in Myanmar on Sunday and China-funded factories set on fire in an industrial zone of Yangon, the bloodiest day since last month’s military coup.
According to the political prisoner aid organization (Burma), a human rights organization, General Min Aung Hlaing’s security forces killed at least 22 protesters in Hlaingthaya municipality west of the city center, where factories were attacked. It said a further 16 prisoners and a police officer were murdered in the country on Sunday.
The Chinese Embassy in Yangon confirmed that the factories were targeted and that Chinese personnel were injured. He called on Myanmar to take measures to prevent further violence and ensure the safety of Chinese workers and property.
Authorities imposed martial law in Hlaingthaya and another district of Yangon, Reuters reported, citing state media.
The Chinese Embassy said that Chinese garment and textile companies in Myanmar employed about 400,000, and urged people not to undermine the two countries’ bilateral relations.
A commentary published by the Chinese state-sponsored Global Times said the attacks were “apparently well organized and planned.”
“Those who maliciously slander China and launch attacks against Chinese factories are common enemies of China and Myanmar [and] they should be severely punished, ”he said.
However, the Myanmar civil disobedience movement, which has helped organize nationwide protests and a general strike since the coup, said the “terrorist junta” was responsible for burning down Chinese factories.
“Any crime that occurs after February 1, 2021 is due to the power-hungry murderous Min Aung Hlaing and his terrorist junta,” the group said on its Twitter account.
China has not condemned the coup, but has joined Western democracies and Russia by endorsing UN Security Council statements regretting the violence and calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and others arrested since the takeover .
Beijing had good relations with the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, which was overthrown last month. However, many protesters against the regime are convinced that China supported the coup and have regularly protested outside the Beijing embassy.
“China is largely targeted because it is believed to be cooperating with the military,” said Yun Sun, an expert on Myanmar-China relations at the Stimson Center, a think tank. “As long as China chooses to remain silent and not oppose the military, this negative view of China will worsen among the people.”
Increasing violence in Myanmar is likely to call for international action to quell violence and stop the military regime from using deadly force against protesters.
Film footage from Myanmar in recent days has included many images of protesters, including children, who died of head wounds. The images support claims made by human rights organizations that Min Aung Hlaing’s regime had empowered security forces to shoot to kill.
Amnesty International last week accused the regime of using “battlefield weapons” against protesters and bystanders.
Dan Chugg, the British ambassador to Myanmar, said on Sunday he was ‘shocked’ by the use of deadly force by the security forces.
“We call for an immediate end to this violence and the military regime to return power to those democratically elected by the people of Myanmar,” he said.
Additional reporting by Sherry Fei Ju in Beijing
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