The killing of at least 38 anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar on Wednesday has magnified international calls for punitive action against the country’s coup regime.

Christine Schraner Burgener, UN special envoy for Myanmar, called on its member states to “take very strong measures” against the military generals.

But in a single-day massacre, the junta killed dozens of people, Burgener told a virtual press conference on Wednesday night.

“The news out of Myanmar is shocking,” she said, adding the day marked the bloodiest day since the military coup on Feb. 1.

At least 38 people were killed and dozens injured in Myanmar on Wednesday, the deadliest day since the military coup on Feb. 1, as police, paramilitary and regular army opened direct fire to disperse anti-coup protesters rallying across the country against the junta.

The bloodiest day triggered international calls for intervention to stop suppression of the civilian uprising against the coup.

Burgener warned the armed suppression “challenges the stability of the region and could lead to a real war.”

‘World is watching’

Volkan Bozkir, a former Turkish diplomat now serving as UN General Assembly president, said he was horrified by news of the killing of protesters in Myanmar.

“Last week, UNGA came together in a show of solidarity with the people of Myanmar as they struggle to assert their civil rights. The international community is still watching,” he said on Twitter.

The UN Security Council on Friday is scheduled to hold a closed-door consultation on Myanmar.

Urging respect for peoples’ aspirations, Pope Francis, said he was saddened by the “bloody clashes and loss of life” in Myanmar.

“I appeal to the authorities involved that dialogue may prevail over repression, and ask the international community to ensure that the aspirations of the people of Myanmar are not stifled,” he added.

Lotte Leicht, EU director at Human Rights Watch, called on the European Union and its members to “urgently deliver on pledges to impose targeted sanctions, and list military leadership and military companies.”

‘Wanton violence and sheer brutality’

Human Rights Watch called the situation in Myanmar a “human rights disaster.”

“Myanmar’s security forces now seem intent on breaking the back of the anti-coup movement through wanton violence and sheer brutality,” Richard Weir, crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

“The use of lethal force against protesters rescuing others demonstrates how little the security forces fear being held to account for their actions.”

“The UN Security Council should take the dramatically deteriorating situation in Myanmar as a clarion call for coordinated action to end to this cascading human rights disaster,” he added.

“Concern and outrage aren’t enough. What is needed is action to hold the junta accountable, including through the use of targeted sanctions and a global arms embargo.”

Fortify Rights, a rights watchdog, called on Myanmar’s military to “stop the violence and release all political prisoners!”

“Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his murderous junta are systematically terrorizing the people of Myanmar,” said Ismail Wolff, Regional Director of Fortify Rights.

“We’re witnessing security forces commit targeted extrajudicial killings and other widespread violations. The Security Council should urgently impose a global arms embargo against the military.”

‘Myanmar on its own’

Muang Zarni, a Myanmar scholar-activist based in the UK, accused China and Russia of “protecting the terrorist regime at the [UN] Security Council.”

“Singapore finances it, & ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] hides behind ‘non-interference’,” he said on Twitter.

“No external power will come to aid #CivilDisobedienceMovement. We #myanmar are on our own. Just like when we were against the British,” he added.

London-based Kyaw Win, founder of the Burma Human Rights Network, said civilians in Myanmar are “facing a violent crackdown.”

“People in Burma need protection from the brutality of the fascist military,” he said.

Quoting Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Fortify Rights said that from early February to March 1 the military killed at least 23 people.

So far, 61 civilians were killed after military coup on Feb. 1, the rights group said.

The UN said more than 1,200 people are under detention and many families do not know where their loved ones are or what condition they are in.

In her discussion with the junta, Myanmar’s military reportedly told the UN’s Burgener: “We are used to sanctions and we survived the sanctions time in the past.”

When she warned that they would end up isolated, the generals reportedly replied, “We have to learn to walk with only few friends”.

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