(STL.News) The chairman joined with chiefs of defense from Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom in calling on the military junta in Burma — also called Myanmar — to follow international standards of military professionalism.
Navy Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, also endorsed the statement.
“As Chiefs of Defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services,” the statement says. “A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting — not harming — the people it serves. We urge the Myanmar Armed Forces to cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions.”
The joint statement’s release follows concerns voiced by other countries in the region, including recent remarks made by military leaders in Singapore and Indonesia. The Joint Statement also echoes White House and U.S. State Department statements condemning the violence.
The military launched a coup d’etat in Burma on Feb. 1. The junta arrested the democratically elected government headed by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. They also arrested the ministers, deputies, and members of Parliament. The military proclaimed a year-long state of emergency and declared Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Senior General Min Aung Hlang as the government leader.
News reports from the Southeast Asian country indicate that thousands have been arrested since Feb. 1. The military has violently put down protests against the coup, and reporting indicates that over 350 people have been killed, including more than 20 children. This includes reports this past week that Burmese security forces shot a one-year-old in the eye with a rubber bullet and shot and killed a seven-year-old girl in her family home.