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February 8, 2021

Tens of thousands rally in growing protests against Myanmar coup

 
February 8, 2021

YANGON: Tens of thousands of protesters poured on to the streets of Yangon on Sunday in the biggest rally yet against the Myanmar coup, as an internet blackout failed to stifle growing outrage at the military´s ouster of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Some estimates put the number of protesters in Yangon at 100,000 and there were reports of large demonstrations in other cities, with rallies condemning the coup that brought Myanmar’s 10-year experiment with democracy to a crashing halt.

Backed by a din of car horns, chanting protesters in Yangon held up banners saying “Justice for Myanmar”, while others waved the signature red flags of Suu Kyi´s National League for Democracy (NLD) party as they marched to City Hall.

“I completely despise the military coup and I am not afraid of a crackdown,” said Kyi Phyu Kyaw, a 20-year-old university student.

“I will join every day until Amay Suu (Mother Suu) is freed.”Protesters announced that they would return to the streets at 10 am local time on Monday, defying the state of emergency imposed by the military and indicating no let-up in their resistance to the coup. They also called on civil servants and people employed in other industries to not go to work and join the protests.Many flashed the three-finger salute inspired by the “Hunger Games” films, which became a symbol of resistance during the pro-democracy protests in Thailand last year.

“We will fight until the end,” said Ye Kyaw, an 18-year-old economics student.“The next generation can have democracy if we end this military dictatorship.”There was a large demonstration also in the capital Naypyidaw, despite the heavy military presence there, while tens of thousands rallied against the coup in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-biggest city. Both those protests included people on armadas of motorcycles, waving flags and banners as they rode through the cities.

There were also demonstrations in Mawlamyine city and the Magway region.Monitoring service NetBlocks said internet access was partially restored on some mobile networks in Myanmar Sunday afternoon, but social media platforms remained blocked and it was unclear how long the connectivity would last. The military had widened its efforts to quell organised dissent on Friday when it demanded new blocks on other social media services including Twitter.

“The generals are now attempting to paralyse the citizen movement of resistance by cutting virtually all internet access,” said Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.