Anti-coup protesters on Thursday took to the streets of Myanmar for a sixth consecutive day, after US President Joe Biden announced sanctions against the Southeast Asian nation’s generals and demanded they relinquish power.
There has been an outpouring of anger and defiance since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week and detained her along with other senior figures of her National League for Democracy party.
Security forces have used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets against the protesters, with isolated reports of live rounds also being fired. Police also ramped up their harassment of the NLD with a raid on its headquarters.
But demonstrators again marched peacefully on Thursday in Naypyidaw — the capital and military stronghold — as well as Yangon, the largest city and commercial hub, which saw tens of thousands flood into the streets.
“Don’t go to the office,” chanted a group of protesters outside Myanmar’s central bank in Yangon, part of an effort urging civil servants and people in other industries to boycott work and put pressure on the junta.
“We aren’t doing this for a week or a month — we are determined to do this until the end when (Suu Kyi) and President U Win Myint are released,” one protesting bank employee told AFP.
Joining the protest were dozens from the ethnic Karen, Rakhine and Kachin minority groups, who marched down Yangon’s main Myaynigone junction.
“Our ethnic armed groups and ethnic people have to join together to fight against the military dictatorship,” Saw Z Net, an ethnic Karen protester and sound engineer, told AFP.
There are more than 130 ethnic minority groups across Myanmar, some of whom have been forced to flee their homes due to clashes between the military and ethnic armed groups, who agitate for autonomy in various states.
Fresh rallies also cropped up in the cities of Dawei and Mandalay, with protesters carrying signs that said “Restore our Democracy!” and “We condemn the military coup”.
In the ancient city of Bagan, a UNESCO heritage site, hundreds of protesters dressed in traditional outfits marched between the temples and pagodas, hoisted painted portraits of Suu Kyi in the air and called for the military to “Free our leader”.