Myanmar’s defense attach has been embroiled in controversy over the country’s Armed Forces Day parade in Nay Pyi Taw, the day most protesters were killed in anti-military protests in Myanmar. Not only have Myanmar’s democrats been outraged and frustrated, but human rights activists and pro-democracy activists around the world have also expressed surprise. The participation of eight countries including Bangladesh is being criticized on social media.
Last Saturday, March 26, was the 7th anniversary of Myanmar’s military resistance against the Japanese occupation forces in World War II. The country’s military government has issued instructions not to hold any protests on the day. But there were widespread protests across Myanmar that day, with the army and police firing indiscriminately. The death toll on this day stands at 114.
Although representatives of all countries’ missions working in Myanmar were invited to the parade on the day, only eight countries participated. These eight countries are China, Russia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Diplomats from all other countries refrained from attending the ceremony. Reports from the world’s leading media outlets, including the BBC and Al-Jazeera, have highlighted the country’s generosity towards the military junta.
Earlier last week, Bangladesh voted in favor of Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council, opposing a resolution on the prosecution of war crimes committed during the suppression of the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka. In addition to Bangladesh, a total of 11 countries, including Pakistan, China and Russia, voted for Sri Lanka in the 48-member council. However, the proposal was passed by a majority vote.
In just one week, instead of expressing solidarity for human rights and democracy at the international level, Bangladesh’s diplomacy was once again criticized for attending the Armed Forces Day parade in Myanmar.
Although the first victims of Myanmar’s military atrocities are its citizens, Bangladesh is the second most affected country. Since August 2016, Bangladesh has sheltered about 1 million Rohingya for humanitarian reasons. Against this background, it is not at all normal to show sympathy or courtesy to Myanmar’s military.
Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Kul Chandra Gautam wrote on Twitter, “I condemn the diplomats of Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand for legitimizing the coup by participating in the Armed Forces Day celebrations.”
The CVM, a coalition of pro-democracy activists in Myanmar, also condemned the incident in a tweet. YY Noon, the founder of Justice for Women, tweeted a picture of the eight-nation news outlet, saying, “These countries are complicit in our killings.” Many Rohingyas have expressed similar frustration.
No statement was received from the government regarding the participation of the Bangladeshi delegation in the Myanmar Armed Forces Day parade.