Myanmar’s anti-coup protesters yesterday swarmed streets across the country in what might be the largest turnout since the Feb. 1 coup after two demonstrators were shot and killed over the weekend.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched throughout Yangon, while similar numbers were seen demonstrating in Mandalay, the location of the weekend’s shooting, after gathering there in the morning.
Earlier in the day, video footage posted by local media showed large demonstrations in the capital, Naypyidaw, and the southwestern city Pathein.
The European Council condemned the military coup, calling for an immediate end to the state of emergency and “the restoration of the legitimate civilian government and the opening of the newly elected parliament.”
“The EU stands ready to adopt restrictive measures targeting those directly responsible for the military coup,” the bloc said in a statement.
About 50 protesters were arrested by police in Naypyidaw’s Pyinmana Township, Eleven Media Group reported.
Many shops and businesses closed in solidarity with protesters, including the nation’s largest retailer, City Mart.
Concerns have risen in the past few days about the banking system, as many private branches have remained closed and automated teller machines are running out of cash amid surging demand.
“We expect to see the biggest crowd of people across the country on Monday [yesterday]. We need to keep fighting against the brutal military,” said Aung Kyaw Kyaw Oo, a lower house lawmaker representing the National League for Democracy, which had won the election in November last year by a landslide before the military rejected the results.
Myanmar has seen nationwide demonstrations since the military seized control of the country, with protesters ignoring a ban on public gatherings.
A 20-year old student who was shot in Naypidaw was the first fatality last week. Two men were killed and more than 20 people injured on Saturday as authorities fired shots to disperse demonstrators in Mandalay.
Singapore on Saturday called the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians “inexcusable,” while Germany condemned the violence and said that the military should pave the way for a return to the democratic process.
The UN’s country team in Myanmar expressed “profound concern” over the violence, saying in a statement it “must stop and the fundamental right to peaceful assembly must be respected.”
The Burmese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday said authorities were “exercising utmost restraint through minimum use of force.”
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