Anti-coup protests continue in Myanmar as UN urged to hear ‘pleas’

YANGON (AFP) – Anti-coup demonstrators returned to the streets of Myanmar yesterday, a day after a United Nations (UN) envoy urged the Security Council to hear the nation’s “desperate pleas” and take swift action to restore democracy.

The country has been in turmoil since a February 1 putsch ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power, triggering a massive uprising from hundreds of thousands angered to be returned to military rule.

Security forces have escalated an increasingly brutal crackdown on demonstrators – killing over 50 people since the coup – but protesters rallied again yesterday.

From the dusty roads of northern Lashio – where young protesters stared down police behind homemade shields – to central Loikaw city in view of Myanmar’s eastern mountains, demonstrators continued to march for democracy.

“Our revolution must win,” chanted protesters in Loikaw, who included civil servants such as teachers in their green and white uniforms.

The country’s vital sectors have been crippled by an ongoing “Civil Disobedience Movement” – a campaign urging civil servants to boycott working under a military regime.

The impact has been felt at every level of the national infrastructure, with shuttered hospitals, empty ministry offices, and banks unable to operate.

Protesters react as they are engulfed by tear gas fired by police, and as other demonstrators let off fire extinguishers, during a demonstration. PHOTO: AFP

Yesterday, state-run media announced that if civil servants continued to boycott work, “they will be fired” with immediate effect from tomorrow.

But protesters in Myanmar’s commercial hub of Yangon continued to defy authorities, gathering especially in San Chaung – a once-buzzing township with cafes and restaurants that emerged as a hotspot for unrest.

Security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades in the morning, scattering protesters, and removed their makeshift barricades with bulldozers.

Activist Maung Saungkha said the movement would persist – even as security forces continued to step up their enforcement tactics – as many remember the repression under the previous junta.

“In our past revolutions, we never won… this time we must fight to win,” he told AFP.

“We must fight together with the younger generation to get victory.”

The generals have shown no sign of heeding calls for restraint despite mounting international pressure, including targetted sanctions by Western powers.

The UN Security Council on Friday heard from UN special envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener, who warned against any moves to grant legitimacy to the junta.

“The hope they placed in the UN and its membership is waning and I have heard directly the desperate pleas – from mothers, students and the elderly,” she said.

“Your unity is needed more than ever on Myanmar… The repression must stop.”