Myanmar: Soldiers Fire at Crowds of Protesters

  • Myanmar: Soldiers Fire at Crowds of Protesters

Myanmar: Soldiers Fire at Crowds of Protesters

Myanmar's junta cut the nation's internet and deployed extra troops around the country on Monday as it intensified a crackdown on anti-coup protests, but defiant demonstrators again took to the streets.

However fresh protests again flared up in Yangon on Monday morning.

Hundreds of engineering and technology students protested in a northern district of the city, according to an AFP journalist.

"They are arresting the people at night and we've to be careful", he said in a video posted on Facebook on Saturday, skirting a junta ban on the platform, hours before his arrest warrant was issued. "They lie on TV".

Monitoring group NetBlocks initially said the "state-ordered information blackout" had taken Myanmar nearly entirely offline, reported AFP. It circulated widely on social media, as did a notice said to be from service provider Oredoo Myanmar containing the same details.

Troops in Myitkyina fired tear gas then shot at a crowd who gathered in the northern city to stop a rumoured shutdown of the electricity grid.

"The government the people of Myanmar chose has been taken from us", one organizer said through a megaphone as protesters were gathering at Yoyogi Park before marching toward the scramble crossing near Shibuya Station. Nevertheless, more than 1000 anti-coup demonstrators were outside the Central Bank of Myanmar building, where there were also military trucks full of soldiers, riot police, water-cannon trucks and armoured personnel carriers.

The US embassy in Myanmar has issued a shelter-in-place alert for the country's citizens because of "military movements" in Yangon, and has warned about potential "telecommunications interruptions overnight between 1:00 am and 9:00 am", Reuters reported on Sunday.

"It's as if the generals have declared war on the people", UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said on Twitter. Attention generals: "You WILL be held accountable".

Around 5,000 people - mostly Myanmar nationals - gathered Sunday with flags raised and signs in hand to protest the putsch that occurred in their home country earlier this month and the subsequent detainment by the military of major political leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

The Nobel laureate spent years under house arrest during an earlier dictatorship and has not been seen in public since she was detained.

Her detention is due to expire on Monday when a court will hear her case.

An internet blackout last weekend failed to quell resistance that has seen huge crowds throng big urban centres and isolated frontier villages alike.

According to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 326 people have been detained since the coup, of which 303 remain in custody.

But fear of arrest did not deter big crowds from returning to streets around the country for a ninth straight day of street protests on Sunday.

In Dawei, seven police officers broke ranks to join anti-coup protesters, mirroring local media reports of isolated defections from the force in recent days.

In Yangon, many areas have begun forming neighbourhood watch brigades to monitor their communities overnight - in defiance of a junta curfew - and to prevent the arrests of residents joining the civil disobedience movement.

"We don't trust anyone at this time, especially those with uniforms", said Myo Ko Ko, a member of a street patrol in Yangon.

In a special session at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the original resolution presented by Britain and the European Union was revised to remove calls to bolster the ability of a United Nations rights expert to scrutinize Myanmar and for restraint from the country's military.

On the day of the coup, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the Japanese government's top spokesperson, said the situation "warrants great concern as it undermines the country's democratic process".