YANGON: The US suspended a trade pact with Myanmar Monday and led international condemnation of the junta’s ruthless crackdown, as protesters and mourners took to the streets after the deadliest weekend since the military coup.
Soldiers and police have killed hundreds in a brutal campaign against mass anti-coup protests demanding a restoration of democracy and the release of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
At least 107 people, including seven children, were killed on Saturday, the United Nations said, as the regime staged a major show of might for Armed Forces Day — an annual parade showcasing Myanmar’s military prowess.
More than 450 people have been killed in the crackdown on protests since the February 1 coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group, as security forces have used rubber bullets and live rounds to break up demonstrations.
US President Joe Biden’s administration announced Monday that the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which laid out ways to boost business but was not a fully-fledged deal, would remain suspended until democracy is restored.
“The United States strongly condemns the Burmese security forces’ brutal violence against civilians,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said, using Myanmar’s former name of Burma.
The statement effectively removes Myanmar from the Generalized System of Preferences, in which the United State grants duty-free access to some imports from developing nations if they meet key standards.
Despite the weekend violence, protesters turned out at dawn in towns and cities around the country.
Hundreds paraded through the town of Plate, in Mandalay region, with banners saying: “The people will never be defeated”.
In Sagaing region, hundreds of mourners lined the street to pay tribute to 20-year-old nursing student Thinzar Hein, who was shot dead while helping rescue workers provide first aid to injured protesters.