Yangon — Myanmar was deeply shocked by the horrific murder of a six-year-old girl in Mandalay this week and history shows that such brutality is not unique.
Khin Myo Chit was killed during a raid by the security forces on her home in Mandalay on Tuesday night.
More than 300 people have died during murderous crackdowns by the military regime since the February 1 coup. Many were young protesters in their 20s but Khin Myo Chit is the youngest victim so far.
She was the youngest in her eight-member Muslim household. She was shot in her father’s arms after the security forces broke into their house in Chanmyathazi Township.
In 1939, a 12-year-old in Mandalay’s Chinatown was gunned down by the British imperial security forces amid student protests against colonial rule. One of the student leaders, Ko Aung Kyaw, was killed by baton-wielding mounted police when thousands of students blockaded the Secretariat, the seat of British rule in Yangon (then Rangoon).
Student leaders were also arrested in Mandalay, prompting hundreds of thousands of residents to protest. Maung Tin Aung, 12, a son of the Tun Hla Hotel’s owner, from Mandalay’s National School joined the protest.
As the protesters, including Buddhist monks and children, marched through Mandalay, police fired from the city walls. Seventeen protesters, including seven monks and 10 civilians, were killed in the shooting.
Maung Tin Aung, who cried “fight for freedom”, was the youngest.
Mandalay residents named them martyrs and built a mausoleum in their honor, named after the Burmese lunar year 1300.
In 1956, Harry Tan, an ethnically Chinese 16-year-old, was shot dead during the first heavy crackdown against students after independence. He was shot as police dispersed students protesting against the government’s cancelation of the seventh-grade examinations.
In 1988, a high school student Ma Win Maw Oo, 16, was shot dead by the security forces during the pro-democracy 8888 uprising.
Khin Myo Chit, Maung Tin Aung, Harry Tan and Ma Win Maw Oo were from different eras and faiths but their deaths expose the cruelty of different administrations and their will to kill children to defend their grip on power.
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