‘I would like to highlight that there are no governments or armies worldwide that negotiate with any terrorist groups’
Senior general Min Aung Hlaing, speaking at a military parade marking Armed Forces Day on Sunday, said he will not negotiate with “terrorist groups and their supporters for killing innocent people” and threatening peace and security.
He said the military, which seized power last year after ousting the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, “will annihilate them to (the) end,” according to an official translation of his speech, quoted by Associated Press.
“I would like to highlight that there are no governments or armies worldwide that negotiate with any terrorist groups,” he said.
He also urged ethnic minorities not to support groups opposed to army rule.
The military government in Myanmar has declared major organisations opposing their rule as terrorists, irrespective of whether or not they have been involved in any armed conflict. Membership or even contact with them carries harsh punishment under the law.
While the army government accuses opposition militants of killing civilians and security forces in its resistance campaign, activists blame the military for killing hundreds in crackdowns since last year’s coup.
There have been nationwide protests to challenge the military that have seen the deaths of more than 1,700 civilians, according to a tally compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, with frequent conflicts in the internal areas of Myanmar.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (Acled), which compiles figures from news reports and publications by human rights organisations, reports that up to 12,000 may have died.
The military government, however, says those figures are exaggerated.
Despite its large numbers, the army has not been able to crush the new militia units. On Sunday, several protestors again gathered on the streets in Yangon, carrying signs saying “uproot the fascist military”, Reuters news agency reported.
The main opposition group, the self-styled National Unity Government, urged people to join a “Power Strike” on Sunday night by switching off the lights and their televisions for 30 minutes while the military parade was broadcast on state-run TV channels.
The United States, the European Union and 20 other countries issued a statement marking Armed Forces Day by recalling “those killed and displaced by violence over the last year, including at least 100 people killed on this day alone one year ago”.
It called on the military to cease its violence and return to democratic rule and urged countries not to supply arms to Myanmar.
The military, also known as Tatmadaw, has paid little heed to these sanctions so far, while activists have been saying the atrocities by the military government amount to war crimes.