Military tightened measures – martial law declared

The people of Myanmar do not want to accept the return to a dictatorial junta. After the coup, more and more citizens are protesting. The military reacts with threatening gestures.

Under increasing popular pressure, Myanmar’s army leadership threatened to take tough “measures” against the demonstrators on state television. Nonetheless, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in the Southeast Asian country on Monday for the third day in a row to protest against the military takeover a week ago and for the release of the arrested de facto Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi. For the first time, the police used water cannons against demonstrators.

Protests spread

In the face of increasing resistance, the military junta read a statement on the state broadcaster MRTV that any opposition to the generals would be against the law. “According to the law, effective steps must be taken against offenses that disrupt the stability of the state, public security and the rule of law,” it said. There have been violations of the law and threats of violence by groups under the “pretext of democracy and human rights”.

More and more people in Myanmar are demonstrating against the return of the military dictatorship.  (Source: Reuters)More and more people in Myanmar are demonstrating against the return of the military dictatorship. (Source: Reuters)

After the protests had spread massively over the weekend, a nationwide general strike began on Monday. In the economic metropolis and former capital of Rangoon, textile workers, civil servants and railway employees stopped working. They poured into the streets and paralyzed traffic. With shouts of “Down with the military dictatorship” they eclipsed the huge rally from the previous day. According to some estimates, the number of participants was several hundred thousand people.

How did the military coup in Myanmar come about? In Myanmar, the military took control on February 1st and disempowered the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The official reason is said to have been – unproven – allegations of electoral fraud in the November election, which the party of the former freedom icon Suu Kyi had once again won by a huge margin. The military staged a coup on the day the newly elected parliament was due to meet. Observers believe that the military primarily wanted to counter Suu Kyi’s growing popularity in the country. Your victory in the election was downright landslide. The 75-year-old, who has been the de facto head of government since 2015, has repeatedly called for constitutional changes. Even before the coup, the military had a strong position in Myanmar. Several important ministerial posts were filled by the army.

“Now the fear is back”

“In the past five years under the democratic government, our fears have been removed. But now the fear is back, so we have to throw out this military junta for our future,” said 29-year-old engineer Kyaw Zin Tun in Rangoon of the AFP news agency. Large rallies have also been reported from other parts of the country – from Muse on the Chinese border to the southern cities of Dawei and Hpa-an.

There was also a large demonstration on Monday in the northern city of Mandalay. Participants called for “justice for Myanmar”, with many holding crossed-out photos of General Min Aung Hlaing, who had taken power after the coup. “Shame on you, dictator,” it read. Martial law has been declared in parts of the city, gatherings of more than five people have been banned and there is a night curfew. Similar steps are expected in other cities.

Pope and EU interfere

In the capital Naypyidaw, the police used water cannons against demonstrators for the first time. At least two people were injured. “The police used water cannons to clear the street,” protester Kyaw Kyaw told AFP.

In view of the developments, the European Union (EU) and Great Britain requested a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Myanmar. The Pope meanwhile called for the “immediate” release of the country’s civilian leadership as a “sign of encouragement for a sincere dialogue for the good of the country”.

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