Myanmar citizens mark coup anniversary with ‘silent strikes’
(Update 2: Adds details on extension of state of emergency)
Bangkok, Feb 1 (EFE).- Streets and businesses in Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon and others in the country were deserted on Wednesday as citizens carried out silent protests against the military junta on the second anniversary of its coup.
Organizers of the “silent strike” asked residents not to leave their homes between 10 am and 3 pm.
Pictures posted to social media showed empty streets and businesses in Yangon, usually bustling with people and traffic, as well as deserted roads in other locations around the country.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Myanmar embassy in the Thai capital of Bangkok as well as in the Philippines capital of Manila and in Seoul, South Korea to voice their opposition to the ongoing military rule.
In a statement, the country’s parallel civilian government made up of deposed parliamentarians and activists opposed to the military junta said the people of Myanmar will never renounce their right to freedom and peace.
“Our desire for peace and freedom far outweighs the tyrannical greed of the brutal military generals, and we will never give up our right to this freedom and peace,” said Dr Sasa, spokesman for the National Unity Government (NUG), which proclaims itself the legitimate administration in Myanmar after the Feb. 1 2021 coup that brought down the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Together we will defeat this tyranny, these loathsome oppressors, and put an end to dictatorship on our blood soaked soil once and for all. We will restore our nation and eradicate atrocities, genocides, and juntas,” he added in a statement.
The military takeover plunged Myanmar into deep political, social and economic crises and has reopened a spiral of violence with new civilian militias, such as the People’s Defense Force – created by the NUG – which has exacerbated decades of war.
The military junta, headed by Min Aung Hlaing, on Wednesday announced that the country’s state of emergency would be extended for a period of six months in a move that cast doubt on elections that had been slated for later this year.
Hlaing had previously hinted that the measure would be extended beyond the two year period stipulated by the constitution citing ongoing “acts of terror.”
Dr Sasa demanded the international community “spare no efforts to condemn, denounce, and thoroughly reject this proposed illegal, fraudulent and illegitimate sham of an election,” the date of which is yet to be announced.
He also warned that an election would “only bring about increased violence, bloodshed, and a prolonged reign-of-terror against the people of Myanmar.”
“Mark my words; a new Myanmar is coming – a Myanmar that will stand strong for every one of its citizens regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or background; a Myanmar that will join the march to global peace and security,” he concluded.
On the eve of the second coup anniversary, the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General, Noeleen Heyzer, also warned an election would “fuel greater violence, prolong the conflict and make the return to democracy and stability more difficult.”
“It is inconceivable any form of peaceful and democratic transition can be initiated by those perpetrating harm on their own citizens. The violence has to stop, including the aerial bombings and burning of civilian infrastructure along with the military’s ongoing arrests of political leaders, civil society actors and journalists,” she added.
In parallel, the United States on Tuesday announced new sanctions targeting six individuals and three entities linked to the regime’s efforts to generate revenue and procure arms, in conjunction with the United Kingdom and Canada, while Australia on Wednesday imposed its first financial sanctions and travel bans against the military and high-ranking regime officials.
More than 2,900 people have been killed since the coup and more than 13,750 are still detained, according to the latest figures from Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. EFE