Sunday, April 4, 2021

A Child's Death: Myanmar's Brutal Army Crackdown

Since the February 1 military coup in Myanmar (formerly Burma) overthrew the civilian government, their army has gone on a bloody rampage to suppress opposition to it. An estimated 550 people have been killed by the regime, including 40 children under the age of 18. That's the current state-of-play there, according to this morning's New York Times. One of those children was a 10 year old girl, as the Times' Hannah Beech reports in this chilling account:

"In the swelter of the hot season, U Soe Oo cracked open the coconut with practiced blows of his machete. Small hands reached out for the first slice, cool and slippery.

His daughter — 10 years old, with dreams of being a makeup artist or a nurse or maybe even a princess with long golden hair like the one in “Maleficent,” which she had watched a zillion times, no joke — ran down a path with her sweet prize.

Just as she reached the trees that marked the perimeter of their property, the girl seemed to stumble, landing flat on her stomach, her father recalled. The piece of coconut slipped from her grasp, falling onto the reddish earth of Mawlamyine, a port town perched on a slender archipelago in southeastern Myanmar.

Mr. Soe Oo put his machete down and ran to tell her it was OK, that she could have another chunk of coconut. He scooped her up, limp in his arms, but it still didn’t register where all the blood was coming from, why she wasn’t saying anything at all.

The bullet had hit the left temple of his daughter, Aye Myat Thu, at about 5:30 in the soft glow of the afternoon of March 27. By the time darkness fell less than an hour later, she was dead."

She was apparently shot by an Army sniper looking for targets of opportunity in the vicinity of a demonstration that day in her town. The situation in Myanmar seems to be spiraling out of control as the Army employs the tactics of an invading army against its own people. According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of politicians, activists, journalists and others have been "forcibly disappeared" since the February 1 military coup.

Beech's entire article is worth the read to appreciate the tragedy of this Southeast Asian nation slipping into bloody chaos while the world watches.

(photo: A wounded child is comforted by her mother in Hpapun, Myanmar. AFP)

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