Tag Archives: Myanmar

Myanmar authorities arrest country’s best-known comedian amid ongoing crackdown

Authorities in Myanmar arrested the country’s best-known comedian on Tuesday as they continue to crack down on people they accuse of helping incite nationwide protests against February’s military coup.

The comedian Zarganar was taken from his home in Yangon by police and soldiers who arrived in two army vehicles, fellow comedian Ngepyawkyaw said on his Facebook page. Zarganar, 60, is a sharp-tongued satirist who has been in and out of prison since he was active in a failed 1988 popular uprising against a previous military dictatorship. He is also well known for his social work, especially arranging assistance for victims of Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

In the past week, Myanmar’s ruling junta has issued arrest warrants for about 100 people active in the fields of literature, film, theatre arts, music and journalism on charges of spreading information that undermines the stability of the country and the rule of law. It was not immediately clear what Zarganar, whose real name is Maung Thura, has been charged with.

Many ordinary protesters and activists are also being arrested every day, according to numerous reports on social media.

In Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, security forces used stun grenades and fired guns Tuesday to break up a march by medical workers who have defiantly continued to protest almost every day against the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The army’s takeover set back Myanmar’s gradual return to democracy after five decades of military rule.


Anti-coup protesters throw red paint on a street during a demonstration in Yangon. Threats of lethal violence and arrests of protesters have failed to suppress daily protests across the country. (The Associated Press)

A participant who asked to remain anonymous for his own safety told The Associated Press that doctors, nurses and medical students were attacked as they gathered at about 5 a.m. local time by security forces who also used cars to run into protesters on motorbikes. The online news site The Irrawaddy reported that four doctors were arrested.

At least 570 protesters and bystanders, including 47 children, have been killed in the crackdown since the takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests. The group says 2,728 people, including Suu Kyi, are in detention.

WATCH | Concerns growing that Myanmar unrest could erupt into civil war:

Two months after the military coup in Myanmar and the protests that followed, more than 500 people are dead and some are concerned the situation could deteriorate into civil war. 2:00

Boycott of New Year celebration in the works

United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said UN officials in Myanmar are “deeply concerned” about the impact of the continuing violence on the country’s health system, pointing to at least 28 attacks against hospitals and health personnel since Feb. 1.

And they are also concerned about violence against the education system, pointing to seven attacks against schools and school personnel since the coup, he said.

“Health volunteers are attacked, and attacks against ambulances are preventing life-saving help reaching civilians wounded by security forces,” Dujarric said.

Activists have begun organizing a boycott of next week’s official celebration of Thingyan, the country’s traditional New Year, usually a time for family reunions and merry-making.

In leaflets and social media posts, they are imploring people not to hold any Thingyan celebrations, saying it would be disrespectful to “fallen martyrs” to enjoy the festival.


Anti-coup protesters hold signs reading ‘Rain Strike’ as they use umbrellas during a drizzle while participating in a demonstration in Yangon. (The Associated Press)

The leaders of Brunei and Malaysia announced Monday that leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet to discuss the situation in Myanmar.

No date was given in the announcement, issued during a visit to Brunei by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. He and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said they “expressed serious concern on the ongoing crisis in Myanmar and the rising number of fatalities.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had proposed a summit on Myanmar last month.

There was no word on whether the ASEAN leaders would participate in person or by video, or if Myanmar, one of the group’s 10 members, would attend.

WATCH | What will it take to end the violence in Myanmar?

Maung Zarni, the founder of Forces of Renewal Southeast Asia, says the international community cannot depend on the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the crisis in Myanmar because of China’s and Russia’s respective interests in the country. 1:21

Military offensives in border regions

Myanmar’s junta also has been battling in some border areas where ethnic minority groups maintain their own armed forces.

Several major groups, most notably the Karen and the Kachin, have expressed solidarity with the anti-coup movement and vowed to protect protesters in the territory they control.

The Kachin, located in the country’s north, have engaged in combat with government forces, but the Karen in the east have borne the brunt of the junta’s military assaults.

The area where the Karen National Union holds sway has been subject to air attacks by the Myanmar military from March 27 through Monday, said David Eubank of the Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian organization that has for many years provided medical assistance to Karen villagers. Burma is another name for Myanmar.

Eubank said his group has verified that 14 civilians died and more than 40 were wounded in the air strikes. He said Tuesday that Myanmar’s military is mounting a ground offensive into Karen territory, driving villagers from their homes and increasing the number of displaced people in the area to more than 20,000, many of whom have to hide in caves or the jungle and are in desperate need of food and other necessities.

“The situation now seems, from our perspective, to be all-out war to the finish,” Eubank wrote Monday in an emailed message.

“Unless there is a miracle, the Burma Army will not hold back in their attempt to crush the Karen and any other ethnic group that stands against them, just as they have not held back killing their own Burman people in the cities and plains of Burma.”

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Myanmar military imposes martial law over country’s largest city after dozens killed

Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in a wide area of the country’s largest city, as security forces killed dozens of protesters over the weekend in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup.

The United Nations said at least 138 peaceful protesters have been killed in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 military coup, including at least 56 killed over the weekend.

The developments were the latest setback to hopes of resolving a crisis that started with the military’s seizure of power that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. A grassroots movement has sprung up across the country to challenge the takeover with almost daily protests that the army has tried to crush with increasingly deadly violence.

State broadcaster MRTV said on Monday that the Yangon townships of North Dagon, South Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and North Okkalapa have been put under martial law. That was in addition to two others — Hlaing Thar Yar and neighbouring Shwepyitha — announced late Sunday.

More violence was reported around the country on Monday, with at least eight protesters killed in four cities or towns, according to the independent broadcaster and news service Democratic Voice of Burma.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed long convoys of trucks entering Yangon.


The body of Saw Pyae Naing is placed in a hearse in Mandalay on Sunday. Saw Pyae Naing, a 21-year old anti-coup protester, was shot and killed by Myanmar security forces during a demonstration on Saturday, according to his family. (The Associated Press)

At least 38 people were killed Sunday, the majority in the Hlaing Thar Yar area of Yangon, and 18 were killed on Saturday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. The total includes women and children, according to the figures from the UN human rights office.

UN condemns ‘continuing bloodshed’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns this ongoing violence against peaceful protesters and the continuing violation of the fundamental human rights of the people of Myanmar,” Dujarric said.

The UN chief renewed his call on the international community, including regional countries, “to come together in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier Monday, UN Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener condemned the “continuing bloodshed,” which has frustrated calls from the Security Council and other parties for restraint and dialogue.

“The ongoing brutality, including against medical personnel and destruction of public infrastructure, severely undermines any prospects for peace and stability,” she said.

WATCH | Myanmar’s military tightens its grip on power, targeting politicians and journalists:

Myanmar’s military has tightened its grip on power, further cracking down on protesters and targeting politicians and journalists. 2:07

Complicating efforts to organize new protests — as well as report on the crisis — cellphone internet service has been cut, although access is still available through fixed broadband connections.

Mobile data service had been used to stream live video coverage of protests, often showing security forces attacking demonstrators. It previously had been turned off only from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. local time for several weeks, with no official explanation.

The blockage of internet service forced postponement of a court hearing in the capital, Natpyitaw, for Myanmar’s detained leader Suu Kyi, who was supposed to take part via a video conference, said her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw. Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained during the coup, and have been charged with several criminal offences that their supporters say are politically motivated to keep them locked up.

Chinese-owned factories torched

Since the takeover, Myanmar has been under a nationwide state of emergency, with military leaders in charge of all government. But Sunday’s announcement was the first use of martial law since the coup and suggested more direct handling of security by the military instead of police.

Sunday’s announcement said the junta, formally called the State Administrative Council, acted to enhance security and restore law and order, and that the Yangon regional commander has been entrusted with administrative, judicial and military powers in the area under his command. The orders cover six of Yangon’s 33 townships, all of which suffered major violence in recent days.


Members of a volunteer rescue team carry an injured man on a stretcher in Mandalay on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

Thirty-four of Sunday’s deaths were in Yangon. At least 22 occurred in Hlaing Thar Yar township, an industrial area with many factories that supply the garment industry, a major export earner for Myanmar. Several of the factories, many of which are Chinese-owned, were set aflame Sunday by unknown perpetrators.

The torching earned protesters a rebuke from the Chinese Embassy, which in turn received an outpouring of scorn on social media for expressing concern about factories but not mentioning the dozens of people killed by Myanmar’s security forces.

Four other deaths were reported in the cities of Bago, Mandalay, and Hpakant, according to the AAPP and local media.

Increased violence

In response to increased police violence, protesters in the past week have begun taking a more aggressive approach to self-defence, burning tires at barricades and pushing back when they can against attacks.

A statement issued Sunday by the Committee Representing Pyihtaungsu Hluttaw, the elected members of Parliament who were not allowed to take their seats, announced that the general public has the legal right to self-defence against the junta’s security forces.


Anti-coup protesters flash the three-fingered salute during a candlelight night rally in Yangon on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

The group, which operates underground inside the country and with representatives abroad, has established itself as a shadow government that claims to be the sole legitimate representative body of Myanmar’s citizens. It has been declared treasonous by the junta.

A small respite from the latest violence came before dawn Monday, when several dozen anti-coup protesters in southern Myanmar held candlelight vigils with calls for the end of the military government and a return to democracy.

In Kyae Nupyin village in Launglone township, villagers read Buddhist texts and prayed for the safety and security of all those risking their lives in the face of the increasingly lethal response of the security forces.

The area around the small city of Dawei has become a hot spot for resistance to the military takeover. On nearby country roads, a long convoy of motorcyclists carried the protest message through villages.

In Dawei itself, demonstrators built barricades out of rocks to hinder police on the main roads. There were marches, both in the morning and the afternoon, to try to keep up the momentum of weeks of resistance to the takeover.

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Myanmar official dies in custody as junta cracks down on media

An official from deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) died in custody after he was arrested early on Tuesday — the second party figure to die in detention in two days — as security forces broke up street protests against the military junta.

Police also cracked down on independent media, raiding the offices of two news outlets and detaining two journalists.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the army ousted Suu Kyi’s elected government in a coup on Feb. 1, detained her and other NLD officials, and set up a ruling junta of generals.

The NLD’s Zaw Myat Linn died in custody on Tuesday after he was arrested in Yangon around 1:30 a.m. local time, said Ba Myo Thein, a member of the dissolved upper house of parliament.

“He’s been participating continuously in the protests,” Ba Myo Thein said. The cause of death was not clear.


A protester gets Coca-Cola poured on his face in an attempt to diminish the effects of tear gas during a demonstration in Yangon. (AFP/Getty Images)

In a Facebook live broadcast before he was detained, Zaw Myat Linn urged people to continue fighting the army, “even if it costs our lives.”

“Their power must never last,” he said.

Neither the military nor the police responded to calls for comment.

Tear gas, stun grenades used to disperse protesters

Zaw Myat Linn is the second NLD official to have died in custody in the last two days. Khin Maung Latt, who had worked as a campaign manager for an NLD MP elected in 2020, died after he was arrested on Saturday night.

More than 1,900 people have been arrested across the country since the coup, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.

Police broke up scattered demonstrations in Yangon — the former capital and still the commercial hub — and other towns across Myanmar with tear gas and stun grenades on Tuesday.


This still image from social media video shows anti-coup demonstrators in Loikaw, Myanmar, fleeing tear gas. (Mizzima Burmese/Reuters)

As night fell, soldiers fired weapons in different districts of the coastal town of Dawei, while at least two people were wounded earlier in the day, one by a gunshot, in the town of Mohnyin in the north, local media said.

Witnesses said two journalists from Kamayut, an independent media company, were arrested, while the military raided the offices of Mizzima News in Yangon.

Live footage posted to social media also showed a raid after nightfall on the offices of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).

A day earlier, the junta stripped Mizzima, DVB, and three other outlets of their licences. They had all been active in covering protests against the coup.

At least 35 journalists have been arrested since the Feb. 1 coup, Myanmar Now reported, of which 19 have been released.

The U.S State Department said it “strongly condemned the junta for the … violent crackdowns on those peacefully taking to the streets and on those who are just doing their jobs, including independent journalists who have been swept up.”

Daily protests against the coup are being staged across the country and security forces have cracked down harshly. More than 60 protesters have been killed and more than 1,800 detained, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an advocacy group, has said.

Ambassador to U.K. recalled

International powers have condemned the takeover, which derailed a slow transition to democracy in a country that has been ruled by the military for long periods since independence from Britain in 1947.

The army has justified the coup by saying that a November election won by the NLD was marred by fraud — a claim rejected by the electoral commission. It has promised a new election, but has not said when that might be held.

The junta said on Tuesday it was recalling its ambassador to the United Kingdom a day after he urged them in a statement to release Suu Kyi, state media reported.


Anti-coup demonstrators in Yangon spray fire extinguishers over a barricade. (Reuters)

The MRTV news channel said Kyaw Swar Min, one of several ambassadors to publicly break from the military line, had released the statement without following orders.

The military has brushed off condemnation of its actions, as it has in past periods of army rule when outbreaks of protest were bloodily repressed.

It is also under pressure from a civil disobedience movement that has crippled government business and from strikes at banks, factories and shops that have shut much of Yangon this week.

The European Union is preparing to widen its sanctions to target army-run businesses, according to diplomats and two internal documents seen by Reuters.

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Myanmar security forces shoot and kill at least 8 pro-democracy demonstrators

Myanmar security forces shot and killed at least eight people Wednesday, according to accounts on social media and local news reports, as authorities extended their lethal crackdown on protests against last month’s coup.

Videos from various locations showed security forces firing slingshots at demonstrators, chasing them down and even beating an ambulance crew.

Demonstrators have regularly flooded the streets of cities across the country since the military seized power on Feb. 1 and ousted the elected government of leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Their numbers have remained high even as security forces have repeatedly fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds to disperse the crowds, and arrested protesters en masse.

“It’s horrific. It’s a massacre. No words can describe the situation and our feelings,” youth activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi told Reuters via a messaging app.

The intensifying standoff is unfortunately familiar in the country with a long history of peaceful resistance to military rule — and brutal crackdowns. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in the Southeast Asian nation after five decades of military rule.

14-year-old boy among the dead

On Sunday, security forces killed at least 18 protesters, according to the UN Human Rights Office. On Wednesday, there were reports of eight more deaths in four different cities, including that of a 14-year-old boy, though one human rights group put Wednesday’s death toll as high as 18 people.

Security forces have also arrested hundreds of people at protests, including journalists. On Saturday, at least eight journalists, including Thein Zaw of The Associated Press, were detained. A video shows he had moved out of the way as police charged down a street at protesters, but then was seized by police officers, who handcuffed him and held him briefly in a chokehold before marching him away.


This undated family photo provided on Wednesday shows Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw in Yangon. Authorities there charged Thein Zaw and five other members of the media with violating a public order law that could see them imprisoned for up to three years. The six were arrested while covering protests against the coup. (Thein Zaw family/The Associated Press)

He has been charged with violating a public safety law that could see him imprisoned for up to three years.

UN Security Council to discuss crisis Friday

The escalation of the crackdown has led to increased diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar’s political crisis — but there appear to be few viable options.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold a closed meeting on the situation on Friday, council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized the give the information before the official announcement. The United Kingdom requested the meeting, they said.


A member of a South Korean civic group holds a sign as she attends a rally against Myanmar’s military coup in Seoul on Wednesday. Demonstrations in support of democracy in Myanmar are taking place in many countries, including South Korea and India. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

Still, any kind of co-ordinated action at the United Nations will be difficult since two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, would almost certainly veto it. Some countries have imposed or are considering imposing their own sanctions.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, held a teleconference meeting of foreign ministers on Tuesday to discuss the crisis.

But there, too, action is unlikely. The regional group of 10 nations has a tradition of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. A statement by the chair after the meeting merely called for an end to violence and for talks on how to reach a peaceful settlement.

Ignoring that appeal, Myanmar’s security forces on Wednesday continued to attack peaceful protesters.

Details of the crackdowns and casualties are difficult to independently confirm, especially those occurring outside the bigger cities. But the accounts of most assaults have been consistent in social media and from local news outlets, and usually have videos and photos supporting them. It is also likely that many attacks in remote areas go unreported.

Medical workers believed to be targets

In Yangon, the country’s largest city, which has has seen some of the biggest protests, three people were killed, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma, an independent television and online news service. The deaths were also mentioned on Twitter, where some photos of bodies were posted.

“I heard so much continuous firing. I lay down on the ground. They shot a lot,” protester Kaung Pyae Sone Tun, 23, told Reuters.

In addition, a widely circulated video taken from a security camera showed police in the city brutally beating members of an ambulance crew — apparently after they were arrested. Police can be seen kicking the three crew members and thrashing them with rifle butts.

Security forces are believed to single out medical workers for arrest and mistreatment because members of the medical profession launched the country’s civil disobedience movement to resist the junta.


In Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, two people were reportedly shot dead. Photos posted on social media showed a university student peacefully taking part in the protest, and later showed her apparently lifeless with a head wound. Accounts on social media said a man was also killed.

Riot police in the city, backed by soldiers, broke up a rally and chased around 1,000 teachers and students from a street with tear gas as gunshots could be heard.

Video from The Associated Press showed a squad of police firing slingshots in the apparent direction of demonstrators as they dispersed.

In the central city of Monywa, which has turned out huge crowds, three people were shot Wednesday, including one in the head, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported. Reports on social media said two died.


In Myingyan, in the same central region, multiple social media posts reported the shooting death of a 14-year-old boy. Photos that posters said were of his body showed his head and chest soaked with blood as he was carried by fellow protesters.

Live fire also was reported to have caused injuries in Magwe, also in central Myanmar; in the town of Hpakant in the northern state of Kachin; and in Pyinoolwin, a town in central Myanmar better known to many by its British colonial name, Maymyo.

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18 reportedly killed in Myanmar anti-coup protests; Canadian Embassy condemns crackdown

Security forces in Myanmar made mass arrests and appeared to use lethal force on Sunday as they intensified their efforts to break up protests a month after the military staged a coup. At least four people were reportedly killed.

There were reports of gunfire as police in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, fired tear gas and water cannons while trying to clear the streets of demonstrators demanding that the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi be restored to power. Photos of shell casings from live ammunition used in assault rifles were posted on social media.

Reports on social media identified by name one young man believed to have been killed in Yangon. His body was shown in photos and videos lying on a sidewalk until other protesters were able to carry him away.

A violent crackdown also occurred in Dawei, a much smaller city in southeastern Myanmar, where local media reported that at least three people were killed during a protest march. The fatalities could not immediately be independently confirmed, though photos posted on social media showed a wounded man in the care of medical personnel, and later laid out in a bed under a blanket with flowers placed on top.


Protesters gather in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

Confirming reports of protesters’ deaths has been difficult amid the chaos and general lack of news from official sources.

Prior to Sunday, there had been eight confirmed reports of killings linked to the army’s takeover, according to the independent Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.

The Feb. 1 coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but the army blocked Parliament from convening and detained her and President Win Myint, as well as other top members of Suu Kyi’s government.

Sunday’s violence erupted in the early morning when medical students were marching in Yangon’s streets near the Hledan Center intersection, which has become the gathering point for protesters who then fan out to other parts of the city.

Videos and photos showed protesters running away as police charged at them, and residents setting up makeshift roadblocks to slow their advance. Some protesters managed to throw tear gas cannisters back at police. Nearby, residents were pleading with police to release those they picked up from the street and shoved into police trucks to be taken away. Dozens or more were believed to have been detained.


Protesters take cover as they clash with riot police in the country’s largest city, Yangon, on Sunday. (Reuters)

Demonstrators regrouped later Sunday and security forces continued to chase them in several neighbourhoods.

There was no immediate word on Yangon casualties. Sounds of gunfire could be heard in the streets and there were what appeared to be smoke grenades thrown into the crowds.

“The Myanmar security forces’ clear escalation in use of lethal force in multiple towns and cities across the country in response to mostly peaceful anti-coup protesters is outrageous and unacceptable, and must be immediately halted,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Live ammunition should not be used to control or disperse protests and lethal force can only be used to protect life or prevent serious injury.”

“The world is watching the actions of the Myanmar military junta, and will hold them accountable,” he said.

On Saturday, security forces began employing rougher tactics, taking preemptive actions to break up protests and making scores, if not hundreds, of arrests. Greater numbers of soldiers have also joined police. Many of those detained were taken to Insein Prison in Yangon’s northern outskirts, historically notorious for holding political prisoners.


Protesters run after police fire tear gas to disperse them during a demonstration in Yangon. (Sai Aung Main/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, as of Saturday, 854 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced at one point in relation to the coup, and 771 were being detained or sought for arrest. The group said that while it had documented 75 new arrests, it understood that hundreds of other people were also picked up Saturday in Yangon and elsewhere.

MRTV, a Myanmar state-run television channel, broadcast an announcement Saturday night from the Foreign Ministry that the country’s ambassador to the United Nations had been fired because he had abused his power and misbehaved by failing to follow the instructions of the government and “betraying” it.

Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun had declared in an emotional speech Friday at the UN General Assembly in New York that he represented Suu Kyi’s “civilian government elected by the people” and supported the struggle against military rule.

He urged all countries to issue public statements strongly condemning the coup, and to refuse to recognize the military regime. He also called for stronger international measures to stop violence by security forces against peaceful demonstrators.

WATCH | From The National on Feb. 22 — Widespread strikes in Myanmar:

Protests and strikes in Myanmar against the military government following a coup three weeks ago have become so widespread the regime is using soldiers to try to fill workers’ jobs. People are demanding the elected leaders, including Aung San Su Kyi, be released from detention and their democracy be restored. 2:02

The Canadian Embassy in Yangon issued a statement on Sunday saying it is “appalled” by the increased use of force against the protesters.

“We unequivocally condemn any use of force by security forces against unarmed protesters, as well as ongoing arrests and detentions of protesters, politicians, civil servants, civil society activists, journalists and pro-democracy leaders.” the embassy said.

It called on Myanmar’s military and police to immediately cease “all attacks, intimidation and threats against protesters, and to release those detained.”

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Police crack down on protesters in the streets of Myanmar after military takeover

Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month’s military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country’s two biggest cities and elsewhere.

Security forces in some areas appeared to become more aggressive in using force and making arrests, utilizing more plainclothes officers than had previously revealed themselves. Photos posted on social media showed that residents of at least two cities, Yangon and Monywa, resisted by erecting makeshift street barricades to try to hinder the advance of the police.

Myanmar’s crisis took a dramatic turn on the international stage at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday when the country’s UN ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, declared his loyalty to the ousted civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and called on the world to pressure the military to cede power by “any means necessary.”

State television reported Saturday that the ambassador had been fired because he had “betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador.”

There were arrests Saturday in Myanmar’s two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay, where demonstrators have been hitting the streets daily to peacefully demand the restoration of the government of Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party won a landslide election victory in November. Police have increasingly been enforcing an order by the junta banning gatherings of five or more people.

Many other cities and towns have also hosted large protests against the Feb. 1 coup.


A riot police officer fires a teargas canister to disperse pro-democracy protesters taking part in a rally against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, on Saturday. (Reuters)

Police in Dawei, in the southeast, and Monywa, 135 kilometres northwest of Mandalay, used force against protesters. Both cities, with populations of less then 200,000 each, have been seeing large demonstrations.

Social media carried unconfirmed reports of a protester shot dead in Monywa. The reports could not immediately be independently confirmed but appeared credible — with both photos and identification of the victim — though later accounts said the woman had not died. The reports from Monywa also said dozens more people were arrested.

The military takeover reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule. Suu Kyi’s party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but the army blocked parliament from convening and detained her and President Win Myint, as well as other top members of her government.

Ambassador dismissed from post

At the General Assembly in New York, Myanmar’s UN ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, declared in an emotional speech to fellow delegates that he represented Suu Kyi’s “civilian government elected by the people” and supported the fight against military rule.

He drew loud applause from many diplomats in the 193-nation global body, as well as effusive praise from other Burmese on social media, who described him as a hero. The ambassador flashed a three-finger salute that has been adopted by the civil disobedience movement at the end of his speech, in which he addressed people back home in Burmese.

UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said he was overwhelmed as he watched the ambassador’s “act of courage.”

“It’s time for the world to answer that courageous call with action,” Andrews said on Twitter.


Monks prominent at protests

In Yangon on Saturday morning, police began arrests early at the Hledan Center intersection, which has become the gathering point for protesters who then fan out to other parts of the city. Police took similar action in residential neighbourhoods.

Security forces also tried to thwart protests in Mandalay, where roadblocks were set up at several key intersections and the regular venues for rallies were flooded with police.

WATCH | Widespread strikes in Myanmar in protest of military coup:

Protests and strikes in Myanmar against the military government following a coup three weeks ago have become so widespread the regime is using soldiers to try to fill workers’ jobs. People are demanding the elected leaders, including Aung San Su Kyi, be released from detention and their democracy be restored. 2:02

Buddhist monks were prominent in Saturday’s march in Mandalay, as they have been regularly, lending moral authority to the civil disobedience movement that is challenging the military rulers.

Mandalay has been the scene of several violent confrontations and at least four of eight confirmed deaths linked to the protests, according to the independent Assistance Association of Political Prisoners. On Friday, at least three people there were injured, including two who were shot in the chest by rubber bullets and another who suffered what appeared to be a bullet wound to his leg.


In this image from video, anti-coup protesters shout at police in Yangon, Myanmar, on Saturday. Myanmar police moved to clear protesters from the streets of the country’s biggest city. (The Associated Press)

According to the association, as of Friday, 771 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced at one point in relation to the coup, and 689 were being detained or sought for arrest.

The junta said it took power because last year’s polls were marred by massive irregularities. The election commission before the military seized power had refuted the allegation of widespread fraud. The junta dismissed the old commission’s members and appointed new ones who on Friday annulled the election results.

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In Myanmar, the generals are used to getting their way. Did they miscalculate this time?

On the streets of Yangon, the mood captured by news cameras seems friendly, even festive. Young people with brightly painted faces and determined looks fill parks and intersections day after day. Their signs ask “Where is democracy?”

Not here. For all the upbeat music and colourful costumes, worry weighs heavily on a Myanmar whose uneven march toward real people power has been blocked by a military with other plans. For all the talk of a peaceful transition to democracy, tanks block roads and soldiers shoot protestors. A 20 year-old woman died this week after being hit with a real bullet. 

The country’s military coup, now three weeks old, is settling into a tense standoff with the generals on one side and a wide swath of Myanmar’s civilian population on the other, vowing not to give up until they achieve full democracy.

Coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing took charge after sweeping aside the results of an election last year which saw Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party score a landslide victory. Suu Kyi is now being held, charged with a few minor offences to justify her detention.

Hlaing has promised a new multiparty vote next February, and to “hand over power to the one who wins in that election, according to the rules of democracy.” 

For the teens and twenty-somethings on the streets, the shock is real — perhaps greater than the generals have bargained for.


Musicians perform outside the British embassy during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on Friday, Feb. 19, with a sign reading ‘We don’t have guns but we have hope.’ (AFP via Getty Images)

The youth grew up with very different expectations.

“We are young, we have a future,” said Nyi Nyi Nyang, a 24 year-old playing electric guitar to the protest lyrics. “But this dictatorship can destroy all our dreams.” 

He is a digital marketer, a job that didn’t even exist here until a decade ago, he told a freelance CBC News crew. That’s when a previous military dictatorship’s barriers to the outside world started crumbling and the internet flooded in. It spread from one per cent to over 43 per cent penetration, bringing mobile phones, social media and a new vision of western freedoms — not to mention new ways of organizing opposition being used in places like Hong Kong and Bangkok.


Nyi Nyi Nyang, 24, is a digital marketer, a job that didn’t exist in Myanmar a decade ago. ‘This dictatorship can destroy all our dreams,’ he said. (CBC)

Young people have embraced all that.

“We want peaceful change,” said a protestor who goes by the initial M, and reached by CBC by telephone. “We don’t have guns. Our hands are empty, only the mobile phones.”

But they are not the only ones who protest the military’s actions in increasing numbers. A widespread civil disobedience movement — popularly known as CDM — has brought the country’s government and the generals’ cash flow to a near standstill.


Protesters chant slogans during an anti-coup protest at Sule Square on Feb. 17 in downtown Yangon. Armored vehicles continued to be seen on the streets of Myanmar’s capital, but protesters turned out despite the military presence. (Hkun Lat/Getty Images)

‘Uncharted territory’

Doctors and nurses were the first to stop obeying official orders, immediately after the coup. They were joined by many civil servants, bank employees and rail workers who went on strike. Every day, cars block key intersections, their hoods up under the pretence of mechanical trouble. 

People have also started boycotting corporations owned by the generals: from Myanmar Beer to Red Ruby cigarettes, from banks to bowling alleys. For them, losing power could also mean losing this lucrative stream of extra income.

WATCH | Doctors and nurses refuse to obey orders under military coup:

Myanmar’s military government has laid several charges against the country’s democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained in the coup. The charges are seen as a way of keeping her in custody while the military tightens its grip during a state of emergency. 1:59

In response to the protests, the army has given itself broad new powers of search and arrest, and has made penal code amendments aimed at stifling dissent with tough prison terms. It has arrested more than 500 people, including Suu Kyi and other leaders of the NLD. And it has launched a nightly curfew, regular internet outages, and raids across the country, under the cover of darkness.

The impasse is real and it is unpredictable, says Thant Myint-U, a historian and author of The Hidden History of Burma. He’s worked with the United Nations and as a special advisor to the president of Myanmar. His grandfather was former UN Secretary General U Thant.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” he said in an interview with CBC News from Bangkok. “If the military begins to buckle as a result of these protests, then it’s hard to see exactly where things might go.”


Thant Myint-U, a historian and author of The Hidden History of Burma, says the current impasse between civilian protesters and the military generals is real and unpredictable. (Submitted by Thant Myint-U)

A miscalculation?

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been in similar situations before. Under previous generals, it was a military dictatorship for half a century before 2010, a starkly unequal society divided along lines of race, poverty and power. 

When people demanded more democracy in 1988 — holding nationwide protests and work stoppages, enlisting the support of civil servants and indeed the police — the army responded with deadly force. Hundreds of civilians were killed before the military regained control. 

Since then, the generals have been careful to cede power only under their terms. 

They kept constitutional supremacy in the shadows, even as Suu Kyi stood in the world spotlight, leading Myanmar toward democracy. 

“That didn’t happen because of protests. That didn’t happen because of a grassroots revolution. That didn’t happen because of [international] sanctions,” said Myint-U.

“It happened because the generals were confident. They themselves wanted to move along a certain path toward giving up a little bit of power.”

But Myint-U says this is a different era, and with this month’s coup they may have miscalculated.

“I don’t think they counted on the kind of really visceral anti-military feeling that they’ve unleashed over these past couple of weeks,” he said. 


A man gestures towards residents, unseen, as police stand guard at the entrance gate of a Buddhist monastery where pro-military supporters took shelter after clashes with local residents following a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on Thursday. (Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images)

“They thought they could do this in a fairly easy way, that they would take over. They would put Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. They would probably deregister [her political party] the NLD. They would have new elections. And then the parties that were friendly to them would somehow win the elections.”

But despite the opposition — and the social and generational changes — sweeping Myanmar, Myint-U doesn’t anticipate splits in the close-knit military which could lead to a street-level victory for the protestors.

“This is not an army that’s ever broken ranks,” he said. And for all the influence of the internet and other ways Myanmar has opened up, “almost everything has been done to keep the army itself relatively isolated from the rest of the world.”

So far, the generals have been undeterred by sanctions imposed on them Thursday by Canada and the UK for army “repression” and human rights abuses or by similar sanctions imposed by the United States. General Hlaing seems indifferent to demands from the U.S., India, Japan and Australia, that he “swiftly restore the democratic system” or to calls by the UN to avoid using force on civilians.


A group of punks take part in an anti-coup protest on Wednesday in downtown Yangon. Teens and twenty-somethings in Myanmar have experienced a decade of internet access, social media and a new vision of western freedoms, making the military coup a shock. (Hkun Lat/Getty Images)

Still, the protestors persist.

Twenty-four year old Phyo Thandar Kyaw says they are afraid, just like earlier generations fighting for democracy in Myanmar.

“My mom told me about what happened in the 1988 uprisings and how they were scared,” she says. “Now I feel like it’s happening again.”

But as fellow protestor Yan Naung Soe adds, this time “we have more educated young generations and more solutions.” More ways, they insist, to defeat the old generals.

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Canada and allies call on Myanmar military to refrain from violence against protesters

Western embassies in Myanmar on Sunday called on the country’s military to “refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians” after security forces opened fire to disperse a protest and deployed armoured vehicles in cities.

In a statement released late Sunday, the embassies of Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and 11 other nations condemned the arrests of political leaders and harassment of journalists after a coup on Feb. 1 and denounced the military’s interruption of communications.

“We support the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity. The world is watching,” the statement said.

Demonstrations are now in their ninth day, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to protest the coup that deposed the civilian government led by elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.


The junta, led by Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said it was forced to step in because the government failed to properly investigate allegations of fraud in last year’s election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won in a landslide. The state election commission refuted that contention, saying there is no evidence to support it.

There was no official word about why armoured personnel carriers traversed the streets of Yangon in broad daylight Sunday, making their way through busy traffic. As night fell, there were videos and other reports on social media of the movement of other military vehicles.

An order that appears to be from the Ministry of Transport and Communications told mobile phone service providers to shut down internet connections Monday morning. It circulated widely on social media, as did a notice said to be from service provider Oredoo Myanmar containing the same details.

As well as mass protests around the country, the military rulers were facing a strike by government workers.

Security forces fire to disperse protesters

Soldiers were deployed to power plants in the northern state of Kachin, leading to a confrontation with demonstrators, some of whom said they believed the army intended to cut off the electricity.

The security forces fired to disperse protesters outside one plant in Kachin’s state capital Myitkyina, footage broadcast live on Facebook showed, although it was not clear if they were using rubber bullets or live fire.

Two journalists from The 74 Media, which was broadcasting live from the site of the confrontation, were arrested, along with three other journalists, the news outlet said in a Facebook post.


A Buddhist monk holding a sign stands next to an armoured vehicle during a protest against the military coup, in Yangon on Sunday. (Reuters)

As evening fell, armoured vehicles appeared in the commercial capital of Yangon, Myitkyina and Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, live footage broadcast online by local media showed, the first large-scale rollout of such vehicles across the country since the coup.

The government and army could not be reached for comment.

American citizens urged to shelter in place

The U.S Embassy in Myanmar earlier urged American citizens to “shelter in place,” citing reports of the military movements in Yangon. It also warned there was a possibility of telecommunications interruptions overnight between 1 and 9 a.m. local time Monday.

In the latest sign of disruption by workers, the Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement many staff had stopped coming to work since Feb. 8, causing delays to international flights. It added that on Thursday, four air traffic controllers had been detained, and had not been heard from since.

A pilot, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, said hundreds of staff from the department were striking. Soldiers were surrounding the international airport in Yangon late Sunday night, he said.

Trains in parts of the country also stopped running after staff refused to go to work, local media reported, while the military deployed soldiers to power plants, where they were confronted by angry crowds.

WATCH | Thousands take to the streets to protest Myanmar’s coup:

Myanmar police fired water cannons into pro-democracy crowds in at least three different cities as protests continue against the military’s seizure of power on Feb. 1. 0:46

The junta has ordered civil servants to go back to work, threatening action. The army has been carrying out nightly mass arrests and on Saturday gave itself sweeping powers to detain people and search private property.

But hundreds of railway workers joined demonstrations in Yangon on Sunday, even as police went to their housing compound on the outskirts of the city to order them back to work. The police were forced to leave after angry crowds gathered, according to a live broadcast by Myanmar Now.

Richard Horsey, a Myanmar-based analyst with the International Crisis Group, said the work of many government departments had effectively ground to a halt.

“This has the potential to also affect vital functions…. The military can replace engineers and doctors but not power grid controllers and central bankers,” he said.

Protests across Myanmar

Hundreds of thousands of people protested across the country on Sunday.

Engineering students marched through downtown Yangon, the biggest city, wearing white and carrying placards demanding the release of Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the coup and charged with importing walkie-talkies.

A fleet of highway buses rolled slowly through the city with horns blaring, part of the biggest street protests in more than a decade.

A convoy of motorbikes and cars drove through the capital Naypyitaw. In the southeastern coastal town of Dawei, a band played drums as crowds marched under the hot sun. In Waimaw, in Kachin state, crowds carried flags and sang revolutionary songs.


People walk on an image depicting Myanmar’s army chief, Min Aung Hlaing, with his face crossed out during a protest against the military coup in Yangon on Sunday. (Reuters)

Suu Kyi’s detention is due to expire on Monday. Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, could not be reached for comment on what was set to happen.

More than 384 people have been detained since the coup, the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said, in a wave of mostly nightly arrests.

Late on Saturday, the army reinstated a law requiring people to report overnight visitors to their homes, allowed security forces to detain suspects and search private property without court approval, and ordered the arrest of well-known backers of mass protests.

Fearing raids as well as common crime, residents banded together late on Saturday to patrol streets in Yangon and the country’s second-largest city, Mandalay.

Worries about crime rose after the junta announced on Friday it would free 23,000 prisoners, saying the move was consistent with “establishing a new democratic state with peace, development and discipline.”

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Myanmar military imposes curfew, bans gatherings amid growing anti-coup protests

Myanmar’s new military rulers on Monday signalled their intention to crack down on opponents of their takeover, issuing decrees that effectively banned peaceful public protests in the country’s two biggest cities.

The restrictions were ordered after police fired water cannons at hundreds of protesters in the capital, Naypyitaw, who were demanding the military hand power back to elected officials. It was just one of many demonstrations around the country.

Rallies and gatherings of more than five people, along with motorized processions, were banned, and an 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew was imposed for areas of Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s first- and second-biggest cities, where thousands of people have been demonstrating since Saturday.

Protesters in Yangon rallied Monday at a major downtown intersection raising three-finger salutes that are symbols of resistance and carrying placards saying, “Reject the military coup” and “Justice for Myanmar.”

There were also demonstrations in towns in the north, southeast and east of the country.


A police officer in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, monitors a protest against the military coup. (Reuters)

The decrees enabling the new restrictive measures were issued on a township-by-township basis, and were expected to be extended to other areas as well. They say they were issued in response to people carrying out unlawful actions that harm the rule of law, a reference to the protests.

The growing defiance was striking in a country where past demonstrations have been met with deadly force. That resistance was happening in Naypyitaw, whose population includes many civil servants and their families, spoke to the level of anger among people who had only begun to taste democracy in recent years after five decades of military rule.

“We do not want the military junta,” said Daw Moe, a protester in Yangon. “We never ever wanted this junta. Nobody wants it. All the people are ready to fight them.”

‘Democracy can be destroyed’

The coup came the day newly elected lawmakers were supposed to take their seats in Parliament after November elections. The generals have said that vote was marred by fraud — though the country’s election commission has dismissed that claim.

State media for the first time on Monday made reference to the protests, claiming they were endangering the country’s stability.

“Democracy can be destroyed if there is no discipline,” declared a statement from the Ministry of Information, read on state television station MRTV. “We will have to take legal actions to prevent acts that are violating state stability, public safety and the rule of law.”

However, the military commander who led the coup and is now Myanmar’s leader made no mention of the unrest in a 20-minute televised speech Monday night, his first to the public since the takeover.

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing instead repeated the claims about voting fraud that have been the justification for the military’s takeover, allegations that were refuted by the state election commission. He added that his junta would hold new elections as promised in a year and hand over power to the winners, and explained the junta’s intended policies for COVID-19 control and the economy.


People hold up placards depicting three-finger salutes — which are symbols of resistance — a rally in Yangon. (Reuters)

The growing protests recall previous movements in the Southeast Asian country’s long and bloody struggle for democracy. On Sunday, tens of thousands of protesters rallied at Yangon’s Sule Pagoda, which was a focal point of demonstrations against military rule during a massive 1988 uprising and again during a 2007 revolt led by Buddhist monks. The military used deadly force to end both of those uprisings. Aside from a few officers, soldiers have not been in the streets at protests this past week.

Photos of the standoff in Naypyitaw on Monday showed a vast crowd of protesters hemmed in on several sides by large numbers of police and police vehicles. Officers there trained a water cannon on the crowd, which was gathered near a giant statue of Aung San, who led the country’s 1940s fight for independence from Britain and is the father of Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected leader who was deposed by last week’s takeover.

Suu Kyi — who became an international symbol of the country’s fight for freedom while detained in her home for 15 years and earned the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts — is now back under house arrest.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent watchdog group, says 165 people, mostly politicians, had been detained since the Feb. 1 coup, with just 13 released.

One foreigner has been confirmed held by the authorities, Sean Turnell, an economist at Australia’s Macquarie University who was an adviser to Suu Kyi’s government. He was detained Saturday under unclear circumstances.

A statement from the office of Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said he was being provided with consular support and described him as “a highly regarded adviser, member of the academic community” who should immediately be released.

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Some internet access restored as Myanmar protests grow after military coup

As enthusiastic crowds of tens of thousands marched through the streets of Myanmar’s biggest city on Sunday to protest last week’s coup ousting Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, their spirits were lifted by the return of internet service that had been blocked a day earlier.

Separate protests that began in various parts of Yangon converged at Sule Pagoda, situated in the centre of a roundabout in the city’s downtown area. Protesters chanted “Long live Mother Suu” and “Down with military dictatorship.” Protesters in other parts of the country echoed their calls.

Authorities had cut access to the internet as the protests grew Saturday, fanning fears of a complete information blackout. On Sunday afternoon, however, internet users in Yangon reported that data access on their mobile phones had suddenly been restored.

The demonstrators are seeking to roll back last Monday’s seizure of power by the military and demanding the release from detention of Suu Kyi, the country’s ousted leader, and other top figures from her National League for Democracy party.


Protesters hold portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi while marching on Sunday in Yangon, almost a week after a military coup in which the elected leader was detained and charged with an obscure import-export law violation. (Getty Images)

The military has accused Suu Kyi’s government of failing to act on its complaints that last November’s election was marred by fraud, although the election commission said it had found no evidence to support the claims.

The growing protests are a sharp reminder of the long and bloody struggle for democracy in a country that the military ruled directly for more than five decades before loosening its grip in 2012. Suu Kyi’s government, which won a landslide election in 2015, was the first led by civilians in decades, but it faced a number of curbs to its power under a military-drafted constitution.

During Myanmar’s years of isolation under military rule, the golden-domed Sule Pagoda served as a rallying point for political protests calling for democracy, most notably during a massive 1988 uprising and again during a 2007 revolt led by Buddhist monks.

The military used deadly force to end both of those uprisings, with estimates of hundreds if not thousands killed in 1988. While riot police have been sent to watch the protests this past week, soldiers have been absent and there have been no reports of clashes.

Several videos posted online Sunday that were said to be from the town of Myawaddy, on Myanmar’s eastern border with Thailand, showed police shooting into the air in an evident effort to disperse a crowd. There were no signs of panic and no reports of injuries.

Showing little fear, protest crowds have grown bigger and bolder in recent days, while remaining non-violent in support of a call by Suu Kyi’s party and its allies for civil disobedience.


Protesters shout slogans as they gather at an intersection on Sunday in downtown Yangon, Myanmar. Some internet services were restored in the city on Sunday after access was lost the previous day. (Getty Images)

In one of Sunday’s gatherings, at least 2,000 labour union and student activists and members of the public gathered at a major intersection near Yangon University. They marched along a main road, snarling traffic. Drivers honked their horns in support.

Police in riot gear blocked the main entrance to the university. Two water cannon trucks were parked nearby.

The mostly young protesters held placards calling for freedom for Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, who were put under house arrest and charged with minor offences, seen by many as providing a legal veneer for their detention.

“We just want to show this current generation how the older generation fights this crisis, by heeding the guideline of Mother Suu, which is to be honest, transparent and peaceful,” said 46-year-old protester Htain Linn Aung. “We don’t want a military dictator. Let the dictator fail.”

Reports on social media and by some Myanmar news services said demonstrations were taking place in other parts of the country as well, with a particularly large crowd in the central city of Mandalay, where there was also a motorbike procession in which hundreds took part, constantly beeping their horns.

Saturday had seen the size of street protests grow from the hundreds to the thousands, but it also saw the authorities cut most access to the internet. Holes in the military’s firewall allowed some news to trickle out, but it also fanned fears of a complete information blackout.

WATCH | Myanmar coup sparks international condemnation, concern for Rohingya:

The military has seized power in Myanmar and detained Aung San Suu Kyi as well as other elected officials, sparking international concern for the Rohingya minority, many of whom fled past military crackdowns. 1:58

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were earlier ordered blocked but had remained partially accessible. Social media platforms have been major sources of independent news as well as organizing tools for protests.

Social media still affected, monitoring service says

NetBlocks, a London-based service that tracks internet disruptions and shutdowns, confirmed that there had been a partial restoration of internet connectivity on Sunday, but it noted that it might be temporary and social media remained blocked.

The communication blockade was a stark reminder of the progress Myanmar is in danger of losing. During Myanmar’s decades of military rule, the country was internationally isolated and communication with the outside world strictly controlled.


Bikers flash the three-fingered salute in Yangon on Sunday to support protests against the military takeover in Myanmar. (The Associated Press)

The elected legislators of Suu Kyi’s party met in an online meeting on Friday to declare themselves as the sole legitimate representatives of the people and asked for international recognition as the country’s government.

Pope Francis joined the international chorus of concern over the situation.

In remarks to the public in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope said he has been following “with strong worry the situation that has developed in Myanmar,” noting his affection for the country since his visit there in 2017.

He said he hoped that Myanmar’s leaders worked sincerely “to promote social justice and national stability for a harmonious democratic co-existence.”

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