Myanmar begins a nationwide general strike and thousands of protesters take to the streets across the country despite a curfew and a chilling warning by the military junta that anti-coup protesters will “suffer the loss of life.”
“Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life,” the military said in a statement on state-run broadcaster MRTV on Sunday.
The statement, read out in Burmese with text of the English version on the screen, cautioned protesters against inciting "riot and anarchy."
In the deadliest weekend since the February 1 coup, two protesters were killed on Sunday when security forces fired on a demonstration rally in the capitol. The protesters had gathered for the funeral of a woman who was shot in the head earlier this month and succumbed to her injuries on Friday.
Myanmar grinds to a halt as hundreds of thousands strike against military coup https://t.co/JhLETVyirn— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 22, 2021
On Saturday, two more protesters were killed when police opened fire in the city of Mandalay, Myanmar's biggest city and commercial hub.
The civil disobedience movement calling for the for the restoration of the country’s elected government and release of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi is gaining momentum across the country.
Despite the heavy security presence in cities, including police and military trucks on the roads, the angry protesters appear to be largely undeterred by the harsh warnings by the junta, which also ordered internet access to be curbed overnight.
On Monday, protesters took to streets of Naypyidaw on motorbikes while thousands of anti-junta demonstrators gathered in two neighborhoods of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city and commercial hub.
“We came out today to join in the protest, to fight until we win,” said Kyaw Kyaw, a 23-year-old university student.
Myanmar actress Paing Phyo Thu -- winner of the Myanmar Academy Award who has been financially helping people who are striking as part of the anti-coup protests -- was forced into hiding when an arrest list named her director husband, Na Gyi. https://t.co/qr4K7uKcEM pic.twitter.com/csnDHQFzGP— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) February 22, 2021
In the Bahan township area, demonstrators sat on a stretch of road and created a sea of yellow and red banners in support of Suu Kyi, who according the media reports is being held under house arrest.
Similar protests have been planned in Myitkyina and Dawei.
Meanwhile, many workers, civil servants and bank staff have walked off their jobs to join the anti-coup campaign. In solidarity with other protesters, markets and shops are planning to remain closed.
Authorities have detained 640 people since the coup, according to the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
United Nations special rapporteur Tom Andrews on the situation of human rights in Myanmar said he was deeply concerned by the junta's recent threat.
"The United States will continue to take firm action against those who perpetrate violence against the people of Burma [the name Westerners use for Myanmar] as they demand the restoration of their democratically elected government," US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken tweeted on Sunday.
European Union foreign ministers are expected to meet on Monday to approve their own sanctions against the generals running Myanmar.
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