A family in Myanmar has said that government security forces fatally shot a 7-year-old girl as she ran to her father — the youngest known victim in the bloody post-coup crackdown by the country’s military rulers. Save the Children said the killing of at least 20 children since the February 1 coup showed “a complete disregard for human life by security forces.“
The sister of 7-year-old Khin Myo Chit said security forces kicked in the door of their home in Mandalay, Myanmar’s most populous city, on Tuesday as they searched the neighborhood door-to-door.
“When the door was open, they asked my father whether there were any other people in the house,” said May Thu Sumaya. When he told them there was nobody else in the house, they accused him of lying and started searching the home.
It was then that Khin Myo Chit ran to her father, to sit on his lap, according to Sumaya. “Then they shot and hit her.”
The family told local media that the little girl died half an hour later as she was rushed to a hospital. Her father U Maung Ko Hashin Bai told one local news outlet that just before she died, she told him: “I can’t, Father, it’s too painful.” Save the Children said a 14-year-old boy was also killed this week, in or near his home in Mandalay.
“We are horrified that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks on peaceful protestors,” the charity said. “The death of these children is especially concerning given that they reportedly were killed while being at home, where they should have been safe from harm. The fact that so many children are being killed on an almost daily basis now shows a complete disregard for human life by security forces.”
The military junta that seized complete control of the country in the coup, arresting civilian leaders and scores of others in the process, did not immediately comment on the deaths of the children.
The government did release a statement on Tuesday saying it was saddened by protester deaths, but the junta has consistently blamed the huge demonstrations on anarchists and agitators, and shown no sign of changing its deadly tactics in confronting the pro-democracy movement.
Since the coup, Myanmar’s cities have seen large daily protests demanding a return to civilian rule. More than 260 people have been killed by the security forces, according to the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), based in neighboring Thailand. The majority of those deaths have occurred as police and soldiers go after protesters on the streets.
On Friday, the United Nations accused the junta’s forces of occupying dozens of schools by force — in one case even assaulting teachers in the process — as they seek to quash the popular uprising against the government. A statement issued by UNICEF, the U.N. children’s protection agency, in conjunction with Save the Children, called on the junta to “vacate occupied premises immediately and ensure that schools and educational facilities are not used by military or security personnel.”
“Security forces have reportedly occupied more than 60 schools and university campuses in 13 states and regions,” UNICEF said. “In at least one incident, security forces reportedly beat two teachers while entering premises, and left several others injured.”