Singapore says use of lethal force in Myanmar against unarmed protesters ‘inexcusable’ after deaths reported

SINGAPORE: The use of lethal weapons in Myanmar against unarmed civilians is “inexcusable”, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Saturday (Feb 20) after reports of two deaths in the city of Mandalay.  

Myanmar’s security forces fired live rounds and rubber bullets to disperse anti-coup protesters at a shipyard, leaving at least two dead and about 30 injured, according to medical workers.

“We are dismayed by the reports of civilian casualties following the use of lethal force by security forces against demonstrators in Myanmar,” said an MFA spokesperson.

“The use of lethal weapons against unarmed civilians is inexcusable. We strongly urge the security forces to exercise utmost restraint to avoid further injuries and loss of lives, and take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and restore calm.”

READ: Violence, in particular live rounds, should not be used on unarmed civilians in Myanmar: Balakrishnan

MFA called on authorities to prevent further violence and bloodshed.

“All parties should seek a political solution for national reconciliation, including a return to Myanmar’s path of democratic transition, through dialogue without resorting to violence,” said the spokesperson. 

“If the situation continues to escalate, there will be serious adverse consequences for Myanmar and the region.”

READ: Widespread sanctions on Myanmar would cause ordinary people to suffer: Vivian Balakrishnan

The Singapore Embassy in Yangon has been in touch with Singaporeans in Myanmar, said the ministry.

“In view of the volatile situation, Singaporeans in Myanmar are advised to remain indoors as far as possible and avoid unnecessary travel to areas where protests are occurring. Singaporeans are reminded to remain vigilant and monitor local news closely,” said MFA.

Singaporeans should take the necessary precautions for their personal safety, and eRegister immediately so that MFA can contact them should there be a need to.

Since the nationwide protests started two weeks ago in Myanmar, authorities in some cities have deployed tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets against demonstrators. Rallies and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes and disruptions show no sign of dying down. 

READ: Indonesia rallies ASEAN members for solutions to situation in Myanmar 

Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan had said on Thursday that there should be no violence against unarmed civilians in Myanmar, adding that live rounds should not be fired on them under any circumstances.

“He stressed that there should be no violence against unarmed civilians,” said MFA in a press statement after Dr Balakrishnan met Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who was in Singapore for a two-day visit.

Both ministers expressed “grave concern” over the ongoing developments in Myanmar, said MFA.

They also discussed possible next steps for ASEAN to address the situation in Myanmar.