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Australia joins international condemnation of Myanmar military junta's killing of civilians

Australia's defence force and 11 other international military heads condemn Myanmar's military junta's use of lethal force that killed more than 100 people, including children.

The Chief of the Australian Defence Force has joined the military heads of 11 other nations in condemning Myanmar's military junta's involvement in the country's bloodiest day since last month's coup.

Key points:

General Angus Campbell and his counterparts from Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, released a statement after Myanmar security forces killed 114 unarmed people on Saturday, in a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Those killed included at least six children between the ages of 10 and 16, according to news reports and witnesses.

"As chiefs of defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services," the statement said.

"A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting — not harming — the people it serves.

"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."

Chief of army stand in front of a flagChief of army stand in front of a flag
General Angus Campbell and 11 of his international counterparts condemned the act.(

AAP: Andrew Taylor

)

Foreign Minister Marise Payne also condemned "in the strongest terms" the continued "horrific use of lethal force".

"These latest events are a deeply concerning escalation in violence," Ms Payne said in a statement.

"We call urgently on the Myanmar security forces to exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law and allow the Myanmar people to exercise their rights to peaceful protest."

Security forces open fire at a funeral 

A group of female mourners wearing blue facemasks surround an open coffinA group of female mourners wearing blue facemasks surround an open coffin
People mourn as they attend the funeral of Thet Paing Soe, who was shot and killed during a protest against the military coup in Yangon.(

Reuters

)

Myanmar security forces opened fire on Sunday at people gathered for the funeral of one of the 114 people killed the previous day, witnesses said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the firing on the funeral in the town of Bago, near the commercial capital Yangon, according to three people who spoke to Reuters.

"While we are singing the revolution song for him, security forces just arrived and shot at us," said a woman called Aye, who was at the service for Thae Maung Maung, a 20-year-old student who was shot on Saturday.

"People, including us, [ran] away as they opened fire."

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The bloodshed quickly drew international condemnation, both from diplomatic missions within Myanmar and abroad.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Myanmar said the army was carrying out "mass murder" and called on the world to isolate the junta and halt its access to weapons.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was shocked by the killings.

"The continuing military crackdown is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified & resolute international response," he wrote on Twitter.

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Myanmar security forces use violence to clear protesters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet that his country was "horrified by the bloodshed perpetrated by Burmese security forces, showing that the junta will sacrifice the lives of the people to serve the few".

The human rights group Amnesty International revived criticism that the international community was not doing enough to end the state violence in Myanmar.

"UN Security Council member states' continued refusal to meaningfully act against this never-ending horror is contemptible," said Ming Yu Hah, the organisation's deputy regional director for campaigns.

The Security Council has condemned the violence but not advocated concerted action against the junta, such as a ban on selling arms.

Anti-coup protesters use makeshift bow and arrows while wearing face masks. Anti-coup protesters use makeshift bow and arrows while wearing face masks.
Anti-coup protesters prepare makeshift bow and arrows to confront police.(

AP

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China and Russia are both major arms suppliers to Myanmar's military as well as politically sympathetic, and as members of the council would almost certainly veto any such move.

In recent days the junta has portrayed the demonstrators as the perpetrators of the violence for their sporadic use of Molotov cocktails.

On Saturday, some protesters in Yangon were seen carrying bows and arrows.

The junta has said its use of force has been justified to stop what it has called rioting.

Foreign criticism and sanctions imposed by some Western nations have failed so far to sway the military leaders, as have almost daily protests around the country since the junta took power and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Wires/ABC

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