2/2 © Reuters. Protest against the military coup in Yangon 2/2
(Reuters) – Businesses closed in Myanmar on Monday in a general strike called to oppose the military coup and thousands of protesters gathered in towns and cities despite the chilling message from the junta that the confrontation would cost more lives. On Sunday, hundreds of people attended the funeral in the capital, Naypyitaw, of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, a young woman who became a symbol of resistance after being shot in the head on February 9 while protesting. On Saturday, two more protesters were killed when police opened fire in the city of Mandalay, marking the bloodiest day in the campaign for the restoration of democracy. However, three weeks after taking power, the junta has failed to stop daily protests and a civil disobedience movement calling for the reversal of the February 1 coup and the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. “Everyone is joining in,” said San San Maw, 46, at the Hledan crossing in the main city of Yangon, which has become a rallying point for protests. “We have to go out”. State media MRTV warned protesters against the action on Monday. “The protesters are now inciting people, especially emotional teenagers and young people, onto a path of confrontation where they will suffer loss of life,” he said. Htet Htet Hlaing, 22, said she was scared and had prayed before joining the demonstration on Monday, but was not discouraged. “We don’t want the junta, we want democracy. We want to create our own future,” he said. “My mother didn’t stop me from going out, she just said ‘take care of yourself.’ In a country where the dates are considered auspicious, protesters pointed to the significance of the date 22.2.2021, comparing it to the demonstrations of August 8, 1988, when an older generation organized anti-military protests that were bloody suppressed. The response from the security forces this time has been less lethal. Apart from the three protesters who died, the army has said that a policeman died from injuries in the protests. The deaths in Mandalay did not discourage protesters on Sunday, as they again demonstrated by the tens of thousands there and in Yangon and elsewhere. Author and historian Thant Myint-U said the window was closing for a peaceful resolution. “The outcome of the next few weeks will be determined by only two things: the will of an army that has crushed many protests before and the courage, skill and determination of the protesters (much of society),” he said on Twitter. RESTAURANTS CLOSED In addition to local stores, international chains announced closings Monday, including Yum Brands Inc.’s KFC and Delivery Hero-owned Food Panda delivery service. Southeast Asian company Grab also stopped delivery services, but left the taxis running. The protesters were also in several cities across the country, including Myitkyina in the north, Bhamo near the Chinese border and in the central city of Pyinmana, according to media reports. The authorities were “exercising the utmost restraint,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. He rebuked some countries for comments that he described as flagrant interference in Myanmar’s internal affairs. Several Western countries have condemned the coup and denounced the violence against protesters. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter that the United States will continue to “take strong action” against authorities violently cracking down on opponents of the coup in the Southeast Asian country also known as Burma. “We support the people of Burma,” he said. Britain, Germany, Japan and Singapore have also condemned the violence, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the deadly force is unacceptable. Yangon residents said roads to some embassies, including the US embassy, were blocked on Monday. Diplomatic missions have become meeting points for protesters calling for foreign intervention. UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews said he was deeply concerned by the junta’s warning to protesters. “Unlike in 1988, the actions of the security forces are being recorded and he will be held accountable,” he said on Twitter. The army seized power after denouncing fraud in the November 8 elections that were swept by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), detaining her and much of the party’s leaders. The electoral commission dismissed the allegations of fraud. The Myanmar Political Prisoners Assistance Association said 640 people have been arrested, charged or convicted since the coup, including former members of the government and opponents of the military takeover.