News ID: 281003
Published: 0411 GMT February 22, 2021

Strike grips Myanmar, anti-coup protesters defy junta's warning

Strike grips Myanmar, anti-coup protesters defy junta's warning
REUTERS

A flag is waved as demonstrators protest against military coup in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon on February 22, 2021.

Myanmar police began to disperse pro-democracy protesters on Monday as businesses around the country shut in a general strike called to oppose the military coup despite a threat from authorities that confrontation could cost lives.

Three weeks after seizing power, the junta has failed to stop daily protests and a civil disobedience movement calling for the reversal of the Feb. 1 coup and release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to Reuters.

There were protests in cities and towns across the country on Monday, from the northern hills to the central plains, the Irrawaddy river delta and the southern tip of the panhandle, images on social media showed.

In the capital, Naypyitaw, where the military is headquartered, a police water cannon truck and numerous other vehicles closed in to break up a procession of chanting protesters who scattered when police on foot chased them, wrestling several to the ground.

“They’re chasing and arresting us. We’re just protesting peacefully,” one woman said in video clip posted on Facebook.

The response of security forces this time has been less deadly than in crackdowns in earlier phases of turmoil in almost half a century of military rule but three protesters have been killed – two shot dead in Mandalay on Saturday, and the first, a woman shot in Naypyitaw, who died on Friday.

The Army has said one policeman died of injuries sustained in the protests.

Late on Sunday, state-owned media MRTV warned protesters that they could get killed.

“Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer loss of life,” the broadcaster said.

Facebook said on Monday it had removed MRTV’s pages for repeated violations of its standards, including its violence and incitement policy. On Sunday, it deleted the military’s main page for the same reason.

The junta’s warning didn’t discourage people from turning out in their tens of thousands.

In a country where dates are seen as auspicious, protesters noted the significance of the date 22.2.2021, comparing it with demonstrations on Aug. 8, 1988, when a previous generation staged anti-military protests that were bloodily suppressed.

Several Western countries have condemned the coup and decried the violence against protesters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter the United States would continue to “take firm action” against authorities violently cracking down on opponents of the coup in the Southeast Asian country that is also known as Burma.

Britain, Germany, Japan and Singapore have also condemned the violence, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres again urged Myanmar’s military to halt repression immediately.

“Release the prisoners. End the violence. Respect human rights, and the will of the people expressed in recent elections,” Guterres said at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Army seized power after alleging fraud in Nov. 8 elections that were swept by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), detaining her and much of the party leadership. The electoral commission dismissed the fraud complaints.

 

 

 

 

 

   
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