Myanmar's ruling State Administration Council (SAC) said it will “annihilate” groups fighting to overturn its rule, SAC chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said on Sunday as the military staged a show of force on the 77th anniversary of Armed Forces Day.
The Southeast Asian country has been in chaos since the dissolution of the former civilian administation led by Aung San Suu Kyi over perceived irregularities in the 2020 general elections.
Across Myanmar, “People’s Defence Force” fighters – often armed with homemade or rudimentary weapons – clash regularly with the milirary that some analysts said had struggled to respond effectively to their hit-and-run tactics.
Fighting has also flared with more established ethnic rebel groups along the Thai and Chinese borders.
Presiding over the annual parade that showcased tanks, truck-mounted missiles, artillery and troops on horseback, Min Aung Hlaing told about 8,000 assembled security personnel that the army would not let up.
The military will “no longer negotiate . . . and annihilate until the end” groups fighting to overturn its rule, he said ahead of the Armed Forces Day procession in army-built capital Naypyidaw.
Jets flew overhead trailing the yellow, red and green of the national flag, while state media showed women lining the streets leading to the parade ground to give flowers and place garlands on the marching soldiers.
Armed Forces Day commemorates the start of local resistance to the Japanese occupation during World War II, and usually features a military parade attended by foreign officers and diplomats.
On Sunday Min Aung Hlaing accused unnamed “foreign aggressors” of working against the military and called for the armed forces to remain united against “internal and external mischiefs”.
Russia’s vice defence minister – a major arms supplier and ally – had been due to attend this year’s parade but was unable to because of his “country’s affairs”, SAC spokesman Zaw Min Tun added.
In February a UN expert on Myanmar said Russia – along with other major ally China – was continuing to supply the military with weapons, including fighter jets and armoured vehicles.
The EU and the US – among others including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK – called for the army to cease its violence and restore democracy.
The joint statement also urged nations to “immediately” end the sale or transfer of arms and military equipment to the country. It follows the US and Britain’s announcement of new sanctions against Myanmar’s army on Friday.