Myanmar’s generals seized power in a military coup last month but the dictatorship has faced demonstrations and protests in cities and towns across the country. The pro-democracy revolt has sparked a crackdown which escalated on the weekend when Soldiers and police opened fire in 28 at protests on the annual Armed Forces Day, leaving at least 89 dead, including children. Now the escalating violence risk drawing in regional power such as India, China and Russia according to Dr Lee.
Speaking on Channel 4 News, the expert on Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide, set out the wider geopolitical implications of the military coup.
Dr Lee said: “It looks like the country is heading very much towards civil conflict.
“I mean who long will it be that ordinary civilian, peacefully protestors, are prepared to be slaughtered in the streets to defence, to call for, democracy?
“How long before they’ll decide to defend themselves? and it would be a reasonable thing for them to do.”
Channel 4’s Matt Frei pointed out: “Myanmar is rich in natural resources, it sits between India and China.
He asked: “Does this conflict if it becomes a conflict, implode or does it explode?”
Dr Lee replied: “It has the potential to be devasting for Myanmar of course, and for ordinary people in Myanmar.
“But it’s clearly got the potential to draw in China, to draw in India, to draw in Russia, as we see, and to draw in the West.”
The latest deaths take the number killed in the suppression of protests since the February 1 coup to more than 400.
Protesters had gathered on Saturday despite the military threatening to use deadly violence against them.
State TV had warned in a broadcast on Friday that protesters risked being shot “in the head and back”.
Protester Thu Ya Zaw, in the central town of Myingyan, reported yesterday: “They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes. We will keep protesting regardless.”