Myanmar’s security forces killed a 7-year-old girl in Mandalay on Tuesday, the military’s brutal crackdown on civilian resistance to the February 1 coup’s first victim.
According to the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) and the news agency Reuters, the young girl was killed in her home during a military raid.
According to family members, the baby, named Khin Myo Chit, was shot while sitting in her father’s lap after security forces broke down the door to the family’s house. Soldiers asked the father if all of his family members were present in the house; when he said yes, they accused him of lying and shot at him, hitting the girl instead, Myanmar Now reported, quoting the victim’s older sister.
The brutal murder of a child in her father’s arms is part of a trend of brutality and indiscriminate use of lethal force by Myanmar’s security forces, which has targeted not only unarmed demonstrators and opponents of the coup, but also bystanders, civilians in their homes, and infants.
Myanmar was thrown into chaos last month when the military, led by coup leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, overthrew a democratic election, detained civilian leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and formed a ruling military junta.
Anti-coup demonstrations and strikes have swept the country since the coup, but they have been brutally suppressed by the junta’s police and military forces, with allegations of massacres, enforced disappearances, and torture of political detainees.
Despite the risks, tens of thousands of people continue to demonstrate and participate in a civil disobedience campaign around the nation. Protesters called for a “silent strike” on Wednesday, with businesses and stores closing and people staying at home in order to shut down entire towns and cities.
Local media photos from Wednesday morning showed empty streets and desolate roads across the country.
According to AAPP, at least 275 people have died since the coup, though activists believe the death toll is likely much higher. Children account for more than 20 of the deaths, according to Save the Children.
“We are horrified that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks on peaceful protestors. 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,” Save the Children said in a statement Tuesday. “The fact that so many children are being killed on an almost daily basis shows a complete disregard for human life by security forces.”
According to Reuters and local news sources, it comes after the death of a 15-year-old boy in Mandalay on Monday. According to AAPP, the kid, a Grade 8 student, was one of three people shot dead in the city that day.
“The fallen child was shot when he strayed out of the house to fill the up water in front of the house,” AAPP said.
Myanmar’s military has not yet issued an official statement on the death of the 7-year-old teen, but it has repeatedly defended security forces’ use of force against demonstrators, claiming that they use “minimal force.”