Conflicts & War

Myanmar protesters defy assembly ban to rally against military junta

Yangon, Myanmar, Feb 9 (efe-epa).- Protesters in Myanmar on Tuesday defied public assembly bans to rally for the fourth day against the military junta that took power last week.

Restrictions were placed on townships of Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing region and Kayah state on Monday night, including bans on protests and the assembly of more than four people in public areas, as well as an 8pm to 4am curfew.

In the administrative capital of Naypyitaw on Tuesday morning, police fired water cannon at chanting peaceful protesters for the second day in a row.

In the most-populous city of Yangon, thousands of demonstrators marched to city hall, holding up the three-finger salute and pictures of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi as they chanted slogans, according to witness videos on social media.

The chants ranged from calling for the release of the detained Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, calling for a general strike, and shouting against the military.

Other protests were taking place in Bago, northeast of Yangon, and in central Mandalay, the country’s second-most populous city.

On Monday night, military officials warned on state TV that they would take action against protesters, who they accused of threatening the country’s stability, security and rule of law.

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, tweeted on Tuesday that “security forces have a moral and legal obligation to defy any unlawful orders to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in #Myanmar.”

“All in the chain of command can be held liable for committing crimes against humanity. ‘Following orders’ is no defense,” he added.

In his first address to the nation on Monday night, junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing reiterated his claims of election fraud and urged people to remain united.

The state newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar on Tuesday issued notices asking striking medical personnel to return to work, and for the sake of “justice freedom, equality and safety” people were “requested to oppose breaching the laws … for the benefit of the country and people.”

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of the country since Saturday to protest the seizure of power by the military, which ruled the country with an iron fist from 1962 to 2011, and to demand the release of democratic leaders detained by the military, including the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi.

At least 170 people have been arrested since the coup on Feb. 1, most of them politicians and members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, including 18 people who have already been released.

The NLD, which had been running the government since 2016, won a landslide 83 percent of the seats in the November elections, but the military alleges that the results were rigged, as justification for its coup. EFE-EPA


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