More Myanmar protesters take to the streets

YANGON, MYANMAR (AP) – Protesters against the military’s seizure of power in Myanmar were back on the streets of the country’s biggest city yesterday, a day after a call for a general strike shuttered shops and brought huge numbers out to demonstrate.

Numbers were down from Monday’s massive crowds, but around 1,000 people in Yangon had gathered by mid-morning at the city’s Hledan Center, a major meeting point for protesters, with other groups assembling at other venues.

In Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, a funeral was held for 37-year-old Thet Naing Win, one of two protesters shot dead by security forces on Saturday. He and a teenage boy were killed when police and soldiers opened fire on a crowd that had gathered to support dock workers whom the authorities were trying to force to work.

They have been on strike, as have many civil servants and state enterprise workers, as part of a nationwide civil obedience movement against the February 1 military takeover.

The military says it took power because last November’s election was marked by widespread voting irregularities, an assertion that was refuted by the state election commission, whose members have since been replaced by the ruling junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory at the polls, which would have installed her government for a second five-year term in power. However, the army blocked Parliament from convening and detained Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and other top members of her government.

The junta has said it will rule for a year under a state of emergency and then hold fresh elections.

There was a flurry of diplomatic activity abroad on Monday, as international concern about the situation remained high. The United States (US) and several Western governments have called for the junta to refrain from violence, release detainees and restore Suu Kyi’s government. On Monday, the US said it was imposing sanctions against more junta members because of the killings of peaceful protesters by security forces.

Lt Gen Moe Myint Tun and Gen Maung Maung Kyaw add to other military leaders and entities facing US sanctions, and Britain and Canada have taken similar action since the coup.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the US condemns the attacks on protesters, and vowed to take further action if more violence occurs.

Anti-coup protesters gather at a rally in Yangon, Myanmar. PHOTO: AP