Protesters in Myanmar on Monday denounced the military government’s decision to extend ousted leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s detention until Wednesday.
Troops and military vehicles were out in force Monday in an increased security presence in major cities.
In Mandalay, troops used rubber bullets and catapults to break up demonstrations in front of the Myanmar Economic Bank. Local media reported that a few people were injured.
The media reported that in Yangon, the country’s most populous city, fewer protesters gathered Monday partly due to a larger presence of military vehicles on the streets.
Police in the capital, Naypyitaw, detained about 20 student protesters. Reuters news agency reported they were later released.
The military detained Suu Kyi on charges of illegally possessing imported walkie-talkie radios two weeks ago as it seized power. She is being held under house arrest at her official residence in Naypyitaw. Her original detention order was due to expire Monday.
Overnight Sunday into Monday, authorities cut off internet access, only to turn it back on Monday morning.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said such restrictions, and the arrests of political and civil society leaders, “are deeply concerning.”
“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the situation in Myanmar, including the increasing use of force and the reported deployment of additional armored vehicles to major cities,” a Guterres spokesman said in a statement Sunday. “He calls on Myanmar’s military and police to ensure the right of peaceful assembly is fully respected and demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals. Reports of continued violence, intimidation and harassment by security personnel are unacceptable.”
The United Nations said Special Envoy to Myanmar, Schraner Burgener, spoke Monday morning with Myanmar Deputy Commander in Chief Soe Win to again press for a visit to the country under agreeable conditions.
In a joint statement, ambassadors to Myanmar from the United States, Canada and 12 European Union nations also denounced the military’s interruption of communications and expressed their support for the people of Myanmar, saying “the world is watching.”
“We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilian, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” the ambassadors said late Sunday. “We unequivocally condemn the detention and ongoing arrests of political leaders, civil society activists and civil servants, as well as the harassment of journalists.”
Protesters Sunday at a power plant in the northern state of Kachin were met with gunfire by security forces. Videos from the protest show members of the military firing into crowds to disperse them, but it was not clear whether the bullets were rubber or live ammunition.
In addition to protests, government employees and civil servants are on strike, resulting in disruption of train services throughout the country. The military has ordered civil servants back to work and threatened action against them.
The military has arrested protesters en masse nightly since demonstrations began. On Saturday, leaders gave the military sweeping powers to search private property.
The military used claims of election fraud, which were rejected by the country’s election commission, as justification for the February 1 coup, its declaration of a one-year state of emergency and subsequent detention of Suu Kyi and senior members of the civilian government.
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup, promised last week in a nationally televised speech that new elections would be held to bring a “true and disciplined democracy,” but he did not specify when they would take place.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have filled the streets of Myanmar’s biggest cities in defiance of a strict curfew and a ban on gatherings of more than four people, holding signs with pro-democracy slogans, many of them with pictures of Suu Kyi.
Source: Voice of America