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Myanmar coup: Protesters defy military warning in mass strike

February 23, 2021 8:08 am

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Myanmar in one of the largest demonstrations yet against the country’s military coup.

Businesses closed as employees joined a general strike, despite a military statement that said protesters were risking their lives by turning out.

The statement prompted fears the protests could turn violent, but they remained peaceful throughout Monday.

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Myanmar has seen weeks of protest following the coup on 1 February.

Military leaders overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and have placed her under house arrest, charging her with possessing illegal walkie-talkies and violating the country’s Natural Disaster Law.

Protesters are demanding an end to the military’s rule and want Ms San Suu Kyi released, along with senior members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

“We don’t want the junta, we want democracy. We want to create our own future,” one protester, Htet Htet Hlaing, told the Reuters news agency in Yangon.

A statement from the military carried on state-run broadcaster MRTV said that protesters were “now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life”.

It cautioned people against “riot and anarchy”. The warning prompted Facebook to remove the broadcaster’s pages for violating its “violence and incitement” policies.

It comes after at least two people were killed in protests on Saturday – the worst violence yet in more than two weeks of demonstrations.

Foreign pressure on military leaders has also been high. In a speech on Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for Ms Suu Kyi’s release.

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