Mass Protests Continue to Demonstrate Against Military Coup
Senior News Editor Rachel Chen
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Myanmar, to demonstrate against the country’s military coup following increased violence against protesters.
Many were concerned the military would follow through on their threats of violence against demonstrators who chose to participate in a general strike on February 22, shutting down businesses across the country in a show of solidarity against the Military’s occupation.
Myanmar has seen increased protests against the military’s coup since February 1. Following the results of the 2020 national election, where Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide, the military declared a year-long state of emergency and placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. Despite no evidence to support allegations of fraud against Suu Kyi’s party, according to Myanmar’s election commission, Military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing took power and replaced the election commission members. Suu Kyi has been formally charged with possessing illegal walkie-talkies and violating the country’s Natural Disaster Law.
Demonstrators demand the results of last year’s election be honoured.
Since protests first began four weeks ago, the Washington Post reports over 400 people have been detained across the country, including journalists according to their news organizations and colleagues. According to The Associated Press, the military has already ordered the arrest of several prominent pro-democracy activists, including longtime dissident Min Ko Naing. The junta has also blocked social media sites, and continually attempted to block protests with barricades in major cities. Despite the peaceful and spirited nature of protests, the police have been responding to protesters with increasing acts of violence. Reported use of live ammunition by police against protesters has resulted in at least three deaths over the past few days.
“We still need the strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people, and to restore the democracy,” Myanmar ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun stated to the UN General Assembly on Feb 26. State television also reports that Myanmar ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun had been removed from his post, and “betrayed the country” after denouncing the actions of the military to the UN General Assembly on February 26.
The ambassador’s speech drew applause and praise from the international community, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power tweeted, “”It is impossible to overstate the risks that Myanmar UN ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun just took in the UN General Assembly ” in response.
The United Nations has not officially recognised the junta as Myanmar’s new government. UN special rapporteur Tom Andrews said he was overwhelmed by the ambassador’s “act of courage”, stating on Twitter that, “It’s time for the world to answer that courageous call with action”.