Myanmar marks 1st Armed Forces Day since military coup
Written by tokyoclub on March 27, 2021
Myanmar on Saturday marked its first Armed Forces Day since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in a coup, with a ceremony and a military parade in the capital Naypyitaw and the military chief saying the takeover was unavoidable due to purported election fraud.
Armed Forces Day marks the date in 1945 when Gen. Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father, began the revolution against the Japanese occupying forces during World War II and is considered the most important event for the military to showcase its prowess.
Coup leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who inspected the military parade, said in a speech that the coup was “unavoidable” due to what he termed fraud in last year’s election, and vowed that the military would transfer power after “free and fair elections are held.”
The military seized power, alleging widespread voter fraud in last November’s general election, which was won resoundingly by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.
He criticized the NLD for violating the Constitution and attempting to launch a government, hinting at bribery allegations against them including Suu Kyi.
The military has been preparing for Saturday by cracking down on anti-coup protests using deadly force.
More than 300 people have been killed in the military’s violent campaign since the Feb. 1 coup, according to the rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
About 8,000 soldiers and other personnel attended the parade, where weaponry was put on display. Visiting Russian deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin was present at the ceremony.
Previously, representatives of foreign countries had been invited to the ceremony. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said earlier this month that Tokyo has no intention of sending Japanese personnel to the event.
Previous Armed Forces Day military parades were held with over 10,000 personnel from Myanmar’s army, navy and air force, as well as tanks, missiles and other types of weaponry on display. The event was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The military has been keeping Suu Kyi and other prominent politicians in detention.