Opponents of military rule in Myanmar yesterday called for a “silent strike,” urging people to say at home to mourn the more than 700 people killed in protests against a Feb. 1 coup and to wear black if they have to go out.
Many Burmese, infuriated by the return of military rule after five years of civilian government led by Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, have been taking to the streets day after day, with democracy advocates thinking up new ways to show opposition as security forces step up their suppression.
“Let’s make the roads silent,” Ei Thinzar Maung, a protest leader, wrote on Facebook. “We have to stage a silent strike to show our sorrow for the martyrs who have scarified their lives. The most silent voice is the loudest.”
Yesterday was the third day of the five-day traditional Burmese New Year holiday, known as Thingyan.
Most people are this year shunning the usual festivities to focus on a campaign against the generals who overthrew the civilian government, and locked up Aung San Suu Kyi and many others.
In overnight violence, two people were shot and killed in the central town of Myingyan, Radio Free Asia reported.
A spokesman for the Burmese military could not be reached for comment.
The military has also been rounding up critics and has published the names of more than 200 people wanted under a Burmese law that makes it illegal to encourage mutiny or dereliction of duty in the country’s armed forces.
Two prominent protest organizers on Thursday were arrested along with an actor and singer, who are known for speaking out against the coup.
Soldiers raided a famous Buddhist monastery in the central city of Mandalay and arrested two people, the Myanmar Now media group reported.
International pressure has been slowly building on the military, particularly from Western governments, although the military has a long record of brushing off outside pressure.
The EU has agreed to impose sanctions on another 10 individuals linked to the coup and to target two businesses run by the military, two European diplomats said.
While the EU has an arms embargo on Myanmar and last month targeted 11 senior military officials, the decision to target the two firms is the most significant response for the bloc since the coup.
EU diplomats in March told reporters that parts of the military conglomerates, Myanma Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corp, would be targeted, barring EU investors and banks from doing business with them.
Human rights groups have also called for them to be sanctioned.
The EU declined to comment and no one at Burmese mission to the EU in Brussels could be reached for reaction.
In rare action by an Asian company, South Korea’s POSCO Coated & Color Steel Co yesterday said that it would end its joint venture with MEHL.
A POSCO spokesman told reporters that ending the venture would not mean that it was pulling out of Myanmar.
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