The death toll in the Myanmar military’s crackdown on protesters has passed 500, as armed rebel groups on Tuesday threatened the junta with retaliation if the bloodshed does not stop.
World powers have ramped up their condemnation of the military’s campaign against anti-coup movement that is demanding the restoration of the elected government and the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Washington suspended a trade pact with Myanmar and UN chief Antonio Guterres called for a united global front to put pressure on the junta after more than 100 protesters were killed in a bloody weekend.
Daily rallies across Myanmar by unarmed demonstrators have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds.
Three of the country’s myriad armed ethnic rebel groups – the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army and the Arakan Army (AA) – issued a joint statement threatening retaliation.
“If they do not stop, and continue to kill the people, we will cooperate with the protesters and fight back,” said the statement.
UN Secretary-General Guterres urged the Myanmar authorities to undertake a “serious democratic transition”.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to see violence against people at such high levels, so many people killed,” said Guterres.
“We need more unity… (and) more commitment from the international community to put pressure in order to make sure that the situation is reversed,” he said.