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Myanmar denies involvement in child deaths, says elections could be pushed back

Myanmar denies involvement in child deaths, says elections could be pushed back
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Myanmar’s military junta is denying that it had involvement in the deaths of children since the February coup, and says its elections could be pushed back.

More than 600 people have been confirmed killed by the junta, according to a daily briefing from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) published Friday.

UNICEF said last week that at least 44 children had been killed as a result of the crackdown last month.

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When asked about three teenagers who died at the hands of the military, Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for the military, told CNN that protesters “provoke the children” to participate in riots.

"In some places they provoke the children to participate in violence riots ... Because of that they may get hit when the security forces were cracking down [on] the crowds,” the spokesperson told the news outlet. “There is no reason we will shoot the children, this is only the terrorists are trying to make us look bad.”

Protests against the military continue to happen since the coup two months ago, when the military declared a state of emergency and arrested newly elected lawmakers who were getting ready to open the first parliamentary session following the November election.

The military claimed that the elections were fraudulent, despite outside stakeholders finding them free and fair.

The state of emergency is only supposed to be in place for one year, after which elections would take place again. However, Zaw Min Tun suggested the state of emergency could be extended for another “six months or more” over “two terms” and “if the duties are not done yet.”

He didn’t give a date for when elections would be held, but said it will happen within the next two years.

"We have to finish everything within two years. We have to hold a free and fair election within these two years," he said in the interview with CNN. “We promise we will make that happen." 

More than 2,800 people are currently in detention as a result of the coup, of which 52 have been sentenced, according to AAPP. The Biden administration placed additional sanctions on Myanmar on Thursday as demonstrations continue to heat up.