As more than 100 people died after a crackdown by the security forces on protestors in Myanmar on March 27, India was among the eight countries that attended a major military celebration in the country’s capital Naypyidaw on the same day, The Indian Express reported on Monday.
Saturday was Armed Forces Day, a holiday honouring the Tatmadaw, as the military is known. Myanmar’s military had seized power on February 1 by staging a coup. It said that the November 8 elections won by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, an accusation dismissed by the country’s election commission. Military leaders have promised to conduct polls again, but have not set a date and have declared a state of emergency. Dozens of people have been killed by security forces in efforts to stop protests against the military takeover of the country.
Myanmar witnessed one of its bloodiest days of protests on March 27 as security forces killed 114 people, including children. Eight countries – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – had sent representatives for the Armed Forces Day parade despite the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protestors that day.
Russia was represented by its deputy defence minister, while the other countries sent representatives from their local embassy, according to The Wire.
A senior government official in New Delhi told The Indian Express that “since diplomatic relations between both the countries continue, diplomatic commitments are also continuing”.
Meanwhile, officials told The Wire that the United States had urged countries not to attend the Armed Forces Day parade.
Earlier this month, around 30 scholars, writers and members of the civil society had also written to Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, seeking that all Indian companies, including state-owned firms, immediately suspend all commercial ties and proposed deals with the Myanmar military.
In a letter to Jaishankar, they said this was a crucial step in supporting regional efforts to restore democratic order in the neighbouring country.
Despite the military warning people not to come out to protest, demonstrators have turned out in Yangon, Mandalay and other towns, as they have done almost daily since last month’s coup. The killings quickly drew strong international condemnation, including a joint statement from the defense chiefs of 12 countries.
“A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting – not harming – the people it serves,” the statement said. “We urge the Myanmar Armed Forces to cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions.”
The United Nations in Myanmar had also issued a statement criticising the military’s actions and said it was “horrified by the needless loss of life”.
But since its initial statement on the coup, India has maintained a complete silence about the protests in Myanmar. “India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on February 1. “We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld.”