Myanmar military widens coup dragnet as scores protest at university

YANGON (AFP) – Several hundred teachers and students protested at a Myanmar university yesterday as the military widened a dragnet against officials ousted in a coup that has drawn global condemnation and the threat of new sanctions.

The rally took place after the arrest Win Htein, a key aide to de facto leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who was detained along with president Win Myint early on Monday.

The putsch ended the country’s 10-year dalliance with democracy that followed decades of oppressive junta rule, and sparked outrage and calls by United States (US) President Joe Biden for the generals to relinquish power.

Yesterday, around 200 teachers and students at Yangon’s Dagon University staged a rally where they displayed a three-finger salute borrowed from Thailand’s democracy movements, and sang a popular revolution song.

“As a citizen, I cannot accept this military coup at all,” lecturer Win Win Maw told AFP. “We have to resist this dictatorship.”

Teachers from the Yangon Education University flash the three-finger protest gesture while holding signs in Yangon. PHOTO: AP

Marching around the university’s compound, students chanted “Long live Mother Suu” and carried red flags, the colour of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

“We will not let our generation suffer under this kind of military dictatorship,” said Min Sithu, a student.

Dozens of employees from several government ministries in Naypyidaw also posed for group photographs wearing red ribbons and flashing the democracy symbol. Hours before yesterday’s university protest, Win Htein was arrested at his daughter’s house, said Kyi Toe, an NLD press officer.

The 79-year-old NLD stalwart, considered Suu Kyi’s right-hand man, has spent long stretches in detention for campaigning against military rule.

Ahead of his arrest, Win Htein told local media the military putsch was “not wise”, and called on people in the country to “oppose as much as they can”.

Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since Monday. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a Yangon-based group that monitors political arrests in Myanmar, more than 130 officials and lawmakers have been detained in relation to the coup.