Monks, nurses join third day of protests against Myanmar coup


Thousands march in the coastal city of Dawei, in the southeast, and in the Kachin state capital in the far north

Police fired a water cannon at protesters in the Myanmar capital on Monday as tens of thousands of peopleacross the country joined a third day of demonstrations against the military’s removal of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi a weekago.

Calls to join protests and to back a campaign of civil disobedience have grown louder and more organised since last Monday’s coup, which drew widespread international condemnation.

The Hindu explains | Why did the Myanmar military stage a coup?

“We health workers are leading this campaign to urge allgovernment staff to join the (civil disobedience movement)”, AyeMisan, a nurse at a government hospital said at a protest in the biggest city of Yangon. “Our message to the public is that weaim to completely abolish this military regime and we have tofight for our destiny.”

Also read: India expresses ‘deep concern’ over military coup in Myanmar

Weekend protests were the biggest since the “Saffron Revolution” led by Buddhist monks in 2007 that helped prompt democratic reforms that were upended by the Feb. 1 coup.

Police in the capital Naypyidaw fired brief bursts of awater cannon against a group of the thousands of protesters who had gathered on Monday, video from the scene showed.

Also read: Myanmar military promises election in a year

In Yangon, a group of saffron-robed monks marched in the vanguard of protests with workers and students. They flew multicoloured Buddhist flags alongside red banners in the colourof Suu Kyi’s National league for Democracy (NLD), which won alandslide election in November.

“Release Our Leaders, Respect Our Votes, Reject Military Coup,” said one sign. Other signs read “Save democracy” and “Say No to Dictatorship”.

Thousands marched in the coastal city of Dawei, in the southeast, and in the Kachin state capital in the far north,where they were dressed head to toe in black.

So far gatherings have been peaceful, unlike bloody crackdowns during previous widespread protests in 1988 and 2007.A convoy of military trucks was seen passing into Yangon late on Sunday, raising fears that could change.

Reuters has been unable to contact the junta for comment onthe protests and state television has not mentioned them.

Calls for work stoppages

The government lifted a day-long internet ban at the weekend that prompted even more anger in a country fearful of returning to the isolation and even greater poverty before a transition to democracy began in 2011.

In addition to the street protests, a campaign of civil disobedience has begun, first with doctors and joined by some teachers and other government workers.

“We request government staff from all departments not toattend work from Monday,” said activist Min Ko Naing, a veteranof the demonstrations in 1988 that first brought Suu Kyi toprominence.

Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for campaigningfor democracy, and spent nearly 15 years under house arrestduring decades of struggling to end almost half a century ofarmy rule.

The 75-year-old has been kept incommunicado since army chiefMin Aung Hlaing seized power in the early hours of Feb. 1 tocounter what the military said was widespread election fraud.Myanmar’s electoral commission has rejected those claims.

Suu Kyi faces charges of illegally importing sixwalkie-talkies and is being held in police detention for investigation until Feb. 15. Her lawyer said he has not beenallowed to see her.

The United Nations Security Council called for the releaseof Suu Kyi and other detainees last week and the United Statesis considering targeted sanctions.

“Protesters in Myanmar continue to inspire the world asactions spread throughout the country,” Thomas Andrews, the United Nations special rapporteur on Myanmar said on Twitter.”Myanmar is rising up to free all who have been detained andreject military dictatorship once and for all. We are with you.”

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