Protest calls in Myanmar grow, a week after coup

Protest calls in Myanmar grow, a week after coup
Protest calls in Myanmar grow, a week after coup

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - People hold National League for Democracy (NLD) party flags on their balcony as they take part in a protest against the military coup and to demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar February 7, 2021. — Reuters pic

YANGON, Feb 8 — Opponents of Myanmar’s coup called for more protests and work stoppages today after tens of thousands of people joined weekend demonstrations against the removal and detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi a week ago.

Protests that swept the country yesterday were the biggest since a 2007 Saffron Revolution led by Buddhist monks that helped prompt democratic reforms that were upended by the February 1 coup.

“Marchers from every corner of Yangon, please come out peacefully and join the people’s meeting,” activist Ei Thinzar Maung posted on , using VPN networks to rally protesters despite a junta attempt to ban the social media network.

The location and time would be announced later, said the former student leader, who has emerged as one of the faces of the new protest movement.

So far gatherings have been peaceful, unlike bloody crackdowns during previous widespread protests in 1988 and 2007. A convoy of military trucks was seen passing into Yangon late yesterday, raising fears that could change.

Reuters has been unable to contact the junta for comment on the protests and state television has not mentioned them.

Calls for work stoppages

The government lifted a day-long internet ban at the weekend that prompted even more anger in a country fearful of returning to the isolation and even greater poverty before a transition to democracy began in 2011.

Activists Maung Saungkha and Thet Swe Win posted on their Facebook pages that police had been to search for them at their homes, but that they were not there and were still free.

In addition to the street protests, a campaign of civil disobedience has begun, first with doctors and joined by some teachers and other government workers.

“We request government staff from all departments not to attend work from Monday,” said activist Min Ko Naing, a veteran of the demonstrations in 1988 that first brought Suu Kyi to prominence.

She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for campaigning for democracy, and spent nearly 15 years under house arrest during decades of struggling to end almost half a century of army rule.

Suu Kyi, 75, has been kept incommunicado since army chief Min Aung Hlaing seized power in the early hours of February 1.

Suu Kyi faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkies and is being held in police detention for investigation until February 15. Her lawyer said he has not been allowed to see her.

The coup has drawn international condemnation. The United Nations Security Council called for the release of Suu Kyi and other detainees last week and the United States is considering targeted sanctions.

“Protesters in Myanmar continue to inspire the world as actions spread throughout the country,” Thomas Andrews, the United Nations special rapporteur on Myanmar said on Twitter. “Myanmar is rising up to free all who have been detained and reject military dictatorship once and for all. We are with you.” — Reuters

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