The call for a general strike in Myanmar had a great following this Monday in Rangoon, the country’s largest city, where for the third consecutive day thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest against the military junta that took power just a week ago in a coup. The appeal of different organizations to the workers has practically paralyzed the old capital while thousands of people concentrated in the historic center, which paralyzed traffic.
Burma threatens “legal action” against anti-joint protesters
One more day the influx of protesters in the streets of Rangoon, with a population of more than five million inhabitants, is being massive in protests calling for the release of the deposed leader of the country, Aung San Suu Kyi.
The strike is also being followed in some ministries, such as Foreign Affairs, where officials and middle managers have begun to join the civil disobedience movement, as Efe has learned. Although at first the city’s banks were operational, the low influx of workers was forcing them to close, reports the local press.
In the administrative capital, Naipydó, where thousands of people have gathered at an intersection in the area of the ministries, the police have used water cannons against protesters for at least 30 minutes in order to dissolve the protest. Until now, the security forces had not charged at the protesters, who, for their part, have at all times avoided confrontation with the police.
This Monday, the Burmese authorities have stated that they will take “legal action” against the demonstrators who are protesting in various cities of the country against the military junta that took power in a coup on February 1. The message was broadcast on the state television channel MRTV, which accused the protesters of damaging the country’s stability, security and the rule of law. Until now, the state media had avoided any news about the peaceful mobilizations against the uniformed soldiers.
Weekend of mass demonstrations
The civil disobedience movement, which began with the strikes of medical personnel, has spread throughout Myanmar, both in large urban centers such as Naipyidó, the capital founded by the military, and Mandalay, the second most populated city, as well as in less inhabited areas such as Kutkai, in Shan state, or Myitkyina, in Kachin state.
During the weekend, Myanmar experienced massive demonstrations not seen in more than a decade in the country, in which the protesters asked the Army to respect the results of the November elections, where the National League for Democracy (NLD) was swept away, and the liberation of democratic leaders arrested during the uprising, among them the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. These are the biggest protests since the 2007 anti-military demonstrations, when they were brutally put down by soldiers.
A local version of the popular song Dust in the wind (Dust in the Wind), composed in 1977 by the American rock band Kansas, has been revived as one of the anthems of the current demonstrations. Burmese musician Naing Myanmar composed “Kabar Makyay Bu” (we will not be satisfied until the end of the world), which adapts the melody of the North American group’s song, during the 1988 civil uprising against the military government of General Ne Win with lyrics that encourage protest.
The song then became a popular resistance anthem and now thousands of people are singing it again to express their rejection of the military government. Whether during the nightly cacerolas, where the Burmese anthem is also sung, or during the protests that have erupted since Saturday in all corners of the country, “Kabar Makyay Bu” is one of the favorite songs sung by the protesters.
The military junta lifted the blockade on internet communications on Sunday, ordered on Saturday when the first massive demonstrations against the coup were registered and which lasted more than 24 hours. “However, social networks are still restricted for many and the situation remains tense,” notes the London-based monitoring portal Netblocks, referring to the blockade against Facebook and Twitter, which many users manage to circumvent through programs VPN (virtual private network).
“Myanmar stands up to free all those detained (by the Army) and reject the military dictatorship once and for all,” said Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar on Monday.
Since the coup, at least 163 people have been arrested, two of them sentenced to two years in prison on charges that have not been specified, while the authorities have released 13, indicates the Association of Assistance for Political Prisoners.
The military, who already ruled the country with an iron fist from 1962 to 2011, seized power last Monday by alleging massive fraud in the November elections, where Suu Kyi’s NLD won 83% of the seats in liza.