Despite Military Threats, Protests Grow in Myanmar
Weeks of protests continue in Myanmar after a military coup on 1 February. Now, hundreds of thousands of protesters turned out across the country to join a general strike, closing businesses and putting economic pressure on the military, which has warned protesters that they risk their lives by demonstrating, the BBC reports.
“It is found that the protesters have raised their incitement towards riot and anarchy mob on the day of 22 February,” said an English language text shown onscreen during a public announcement from the junta on state television. “Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life.” The statement also blamed protesters for violence at demonstrations, which allegedly forced security personnel to fire back. So far, three protesters have been killed.
According to the Associated Press, the protest movement in Myanmar has embraced nonviolence and only occasionally gotten into shoving matches with police, throwing bottles at them if provoked.
Social media posts from shortly before the nightly 1:00 a.m. Internet cutoff said security forces had set up roadblocks on bridges and streets near foreign embassies in the country’s biggest city, Yangon. The enforced Internet outage was likely to be extended from the usual 9:00 a.m. unoon.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Mandalay joined the nationwide general strike against the military coup.#22222generalstrike #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/xEG49IDHol— Myanmar Now (@Myanmar_Now_Eng) February 22, 2021
The general strike closed many shops, and even those working for official state companies, government doctors, and engineers were going on strike, the BBC reports.
International reactions have been growing stronger in the weeks since the coup. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the UN Human Rights Council that “I call on the Myanmar military to stop the repression immediately,” and to “Release the prisoners. End the violence. Respect human rights and the will of the people expressed in recent elections. Coups have no place in our modern world.”
As of 22 February, 684 people have been arrested, charged, or sentenced as part of the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have imposed sanctions on the leaders of the coup, and today, the European Union said it was preparing sanctions as well.