WASHINGTON: The US ordered all non-essential diplomats to depart Myanmar on Tuesday after the military’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators hit its bloodiest day.
The Biden administration allowed any non-emergency government employees and their families to leave the country on Feb. 14 in what was then the early days of the military’s violent efforts to quell dissent.
Tuesday’s action goes a step further, ordering their departure amid a dramatic uptick in violence.
The State Department announced the change within a travel warning that cautioned against all travel to Myanmar due to “areas of civil unrest and armed violence” as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.
At least 141 people, including children, were shot dead by Myanmar’s ruling military regime on Saturday in a violent crackdown against pro-democracy protests that erupted after the junta’s Feb. 1 seizure of power. The mass killings marked the country’s bloodiest since the coup took place.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said the killing of eight protesters by police and security forces on Tuesday brought the total number of killed demonstrators to at least 521.
Last month, Myanmar’s military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi after her National League for Democracy (NLD) party made sweeping gains in nationwide elections in November.
In response to the coup, civilian groups across the country launched a civil disobedience campaign that has included mass demonstrations and sit-ins.