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Myanmar military denies responsibility for child deaths and says elections could be pushed back

April 8, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 23.1%. 3 min read.

"This is not a coup," said Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun from a gilded hall in Myanmar's purpose-built capital Naypyidaw, the city where his comrades recently ousted an elected government, detained the country's leadership, and installed a military junta.

Zaw Min Tun from a gilded hall in Myanmar's purpose-built capital Naypyidaw, the city where his comrades recently ousted an elected government, detained the country's leadership, and installed a military junta.

At one point, Zaw Min Tun said if civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's father -- the assassinated independence hero Aung San, who founded the country's modern military -- could see the situation now, he would say: "You are such a fool, my daughter. "

The following interview with Zaw Min Tun offers an insight into how Myanmar's military junta are trying to justify their bloody takeover to the world, while at the same time cocooning themselves in government buildings far from a populace fiercely resistant to their rule, as they order deadly crackdowns on their own citizens in villages, towns and cities across the country.

Zaw Min Tun said the state of emergency could be extended for an additional "six months or more" over "two terms" and "if the duties are not done yet. " He did not give a firm date for when elections would be held, but said that according to the 2008 military-drafted constitution, "we have to finish everything within two years.

Zaw Min Tun pointed to a string of reforms the quasi-civilian government embarked upon in 2011 after the military gave up direct rule, which paved the way for the 2015 elections, in which Suu Kyi won a resounding victory.

Zaw Min Tun said the military had tried to negotiate with the NLD government but "no action was taken. "

Zaw Min Tun said the junta had "solid evidence" the elections were fraudulent, but did not show any to CNN.

Zaw Min Tun blamed the violence on protesters "provoking" the crowd and said security forces cracked down because protesters "blocked the civil servants" from going to work.

"The crowds were throwing stones and slingshots at them in the beginning but later the crowd are blocking with sand bags, shooting with handmade guns, throwing with fire, throwing with molotov (cocktails) and the security forces have to use the weapons for the riot," Zaw Min Tun said.

Asked whether he was seriously comparing slingshots to assault rifles, Zaw Min Tun said the security forces were using "minimum force. "

According to the military, the death toll at the time of the interview was 248 people, including 10 police officers and six soldiers, he said -- less than half the toll documented by multiple human rights groups, which have repeatedly said security forces are violating international humanitarian law by shooting indiscriminately into crowds of peaceful protesters.

When asked about three teenagers who have died at the hands of security forces -- Kyaw Min Latt, 17, Htoo Myat Win, 13, and Tun Tun Aung, 14, -- the military spokesperson blamed protesters for "using" children on the front lines.

Forced to go to a military hospital, Htoo Myat Win's father said doctors there did an autopsy and told him to sign a document stating there was no bullet.

Pressed by CNN about the allegations from families of soldiers shooting into houses and of the military attempting to cover up the causes of deaths, spokesperson Zaw Min Tun demanded CNN show him evidence.

"The security forces were worried they would provoke others and start the protest in the market, and that is why they got arrested," he said, adding the military expressed "regret" over the arrests.

However, while Zaw Min Tun insisted elections would be held in the future, he warned the military's version of democracy would perhaps not be a Western-style liberal system.

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