Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators brave threats from the Burmese junta


This threat was made Sunday at the end of a weekend mourning the death of three demonstrators and marked by the funeral of a young woman who had succumbed to her injuries on Friday.

Three weeks after the February 1 putsch and the arrest of the former head of the civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi, pro-democracy mobilization does not weaken, with daily demonstrations and a campaign of civil disobedience that disrupts the functioning of the state and the economy.

Riot police advance towards protesters in Yangon on February 22, 2021.

Photo : Getty Images / YE AUNG THU

Protesters are urging people, especially elated teens and youth, to embark on a path of confrontation where they will perish, the authorities warned on Sunday evening in a statement in Burmese read on the public channel MRTV, and an English translation of which appeared on the screen.

The text warned the demonstrators against the temptation to incite the population to riot and anarchy.

Protesters wave flags in Myanmar.

Protesters wave flags at a rally in Yangon on February 22, 2021.

Photo : Getty Images / SAI AUNG MAIN

The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, has expressed deep concern at the threats.

Warning to the junta: unlike 1988, the actions of the security forces are recorded and you will be held to account, he wrote on Twitter.

The power’s warning did not deter protesters from taking to the streets of Rangoon, where tens of thousands of people marched.

We are here today to join in the challenge, to fight until we win. We are concerned about the crackdown, but we will continue. We are very angry.

Kyaw Kyaw, 23 year old student

The residents of Rangoon saw on Monday a strengthening of security arrangements in the capital, with many police and army trucks in the streets, while roadblocks had been installed in the streets near the embassy district.

Army unjustly seized power from elected civilian government, denounced a 29-year-old protester on condition of anonymity. We will fight until we get our freedom, democracy and justice.

A hand holds up a poster of Aung San Suu Kyi.  It reads:

Demonstrators are calling for the return of the country’s democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Photo : Getty Images / AFP/SAI AUNG MAIN

Thousands of people also demonstrated in the capital Naypyidaw which is also a stronghold of the army. Gatherings were also held in the towns of Myitkyina (north) and Dawei (south).

Many markets and shops have remained closed in Rangoon and other cities after calls for a general strike to amplify the civil disobedience movement.

On Sunday, the Burmese paid tribute to the first victim of military repression, a young grocer who became an icon of the anti-junta resistance.

The funeral of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, shot in the head and died Friday after 10 days in intensive care, took place on the outskirts of the capital Naypyidaw in the presence of several thousand people.

On Saturday, two people were killed in Mandalay when police fired on the crowd, and a 30-year-old man was killed in Rangoon.

To the massive protests against their coup, the Burmese military responded by gradually stepping up the deployment of security forces, and increasingly using force to disperse the protesters.

Rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons … the security services sometimes even resorted to live ammunition.

According to the Association for Aid to Political Prisoners, 640 people have been arrested since the putsch. Among those targeted are railway workers, civil servants and bank employees who have stopped working in solidarity with the opposition to the junta.

The escalation of tensions sparked new international condemnations, denounced Sunday evening by the Burmese Foreign Ministry as a blatant interference in the internal affairs of the country.

Despite the illegal demonstrations, incitement to unrest and violence, the (Burmese) authorities are showing the utmost restraint, using as little force as possible to deal with the disturbances, the ministry said in a statement.



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