Yangon, Myanmar – Protesters gathered in Myanmar’s largest city on Monday, despite the ruling junta’s threat to use deadly force against those involved in a general strike against an army takeover three weeks ago.
More than 1,000 protesters gathered near the US Embassy in Yangon despite the route being blocked, but left to avoid a confrontation after 20 military trucks arrived at the riot police. Protests continued in other parts of the city next to Sule Pagoda, a traditional gathering place.
Factories, workplaces and shops across the country were closed on Monday in response to a call for a nationwide strike. Closing was expanded for the capital Naypyitaw.
The junta warned against the general strike in a public announcement on Sunday night on state television broadcaster MRTV.
“It is found that the protesters have increased their inclination towards the riot and chaotic crowd on 22 February. The protesters are now taking people, especially emotional teenagers and youth, to a confrontational path where they will suffer loss of life, ”the onscreen text in English mimicked the declaration spoken in Burmese.
Junta’s statement blamed the perpetrators for past protest violence, with the result that “members of the security force had to fire back.” Three protesters have been badly shot.
The trucks cruised the streets of Yangon on Sunday night, noting similar warnings.
The protest movement, which seeks to restore power to the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and has released him and other leaders from detention, has embraced non-violence.
The nationwide strike for number five was called a five-toss as of Monday’s date.
“As a citizen of the country I am joining 22222 nationwide protests. We must join the protest this time without fail, ”said 42-year-old Zayar, who runs a bottled water business in the capital. “So I closed my factory and joined the demonstration.”
27-year-old Saleswoman Xin Mi Aang also joined the strike.
“We don’t want to be ruled by rule,” she said as people marched behind her and chanted. Until we win, we will fight against them.
Thousands of people gathered at the capital’s elaborate boulevard, many to allow rapid movement in the event of any police action on motorbikes.
Reports and photographs of protests in at least a dozen cities and towns were posted on social media. There were particularly colorful event photos in Taungyi, the Shan state capital, where scores of small red hot air balloons were set aside. There was a large adornment with a portrait of a three-finger salute adopted by the anti-coup movement. The city is famous for its annual hot-air balloon festival.
In Paimana, a satellite town of Nyepitawa, police chased people through the streets to arrest them.
The general strike, the Civil Disobedience Movement, was an extension of the work carried out by a loosely organized group that has been encouraging civil servants and workers in state enterprises to quit their jobs. Several transportation workers and white-collar workers have responded to the appeal.
A general strike committee was formed by more than two dozen groups on Saturday to provide a more formal structure for the resistance movement and to launch a “spring revolution”.
Inauspicious signs of a possible conflict attracted attention outside of Myanmar, with the US reiterating that it stood with the people of Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter that the US would “take stern action against those who prevent violence against the people of Burma as they demand the restoration of their democratically elected government.”
“We call on the military to stop the violence, stop all unjust attacks on journalists and activists and honor the will of the people,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Twitter.
On Sunday, a crowd in Neyopitwa attended the funeral of the young woman who confirmed the first person killed in the protest, while protesters also mourned two other protesters, whose second largest in the country on Saturday He was shot and killed in the city mandalay.
Large crowd gathered on Monday
The military prevented the convening of Parliament on 1 February, claiming that elections won by Suu Kyi’s party in a landslide last November were fraudulently tainted. The Election Commission confirmed the victory, replaced by Juneta, who says there will be a new election in a year.
The coup was a major setback for democracy in Myanmar, 50 years after the military rule that began with the 1962 coup. Suu Kyi came to power after her party won the 2015 election, but the generals retained enough power under the army-drafted constitution.
According to the Independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, under Janta, 593 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced, including Suu Kyi and President Win Mint.