The pageantry of Myanmar’s annual military parade did little to conceal a sinister message: the country’s armed forces will fight those who oppose their rule at any cost.
Since a military coup in 2021, the country has been engulfed in civil war.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, and over a million have been displaced.
In a rare speech, General Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the military government, showed no signs of backing down.
He stated that the regime would deal decisively with what he called “acts of terror” by armed resistance groups. And, he added, countries that have condemned his coup – terrorist supporters, he called them – were wrong and should join the military in forging its own form of democracy.
It was a lavish parade, with Gen Min Aung Hlaing cutting a regal figure as he inspected thousands of multi-colored and impeccably-ordered troops in an open-top jeep – an unapologetic extravagance at a time when so many Burmese people are suffering from terrible economic hardship, but one meant to demonstrate a man in undisputed command of his army and country.
The parade commemorates Armed Forces Day, which is an oddity. It was previously known as Resistance Day, in honor of the 1945 decision to resist Japanese occupation. That must be a painful memory for an army facing widespread popular opposition to its rule today. However, it is one of the few times when outsiders can hear the military commander speak.