‘Silent strike’ against junta empties Myanmar streets
Protest action comes a week after first jail sentences against Aung San Suu Kyi
Anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar staged a “silent strike” on Friday, closing businesses and emptying the streets of cities and towns to protest against military rule.
The country has been in turmoil since the February coup, with the economy in tatters and more than 1,300 people killed by security forces, according to a local monitoring group.
This week reports emerged of one of the most troubling incidents yet. Myanmar soldiers are accused of rounding up 11 people in a village Sagaing region before shooting them and setting fire to their bodies.
The streets of downtown Yangon were deserted on Friday, with no street vendors and little traffic, AFP correspondents said.
The famous Shwedagon pagoda, usually bustling with visitors and pilgrims, was also quiet.
“Restaurants, shops, and the main market are all closed,” a resident of Mandalay told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“There have been no street vendors since this morning, no early morning walkers.”
Pictures in local media also showed empty streets in the southeastern city of Mawlamyine and in towns across Sagaing region.
The US embassy in Yangon advised its citizens to stay off the streets Friday, citing a heightened risk of violence by security forces against any gatherings or protests.
At 4pm local time some Yangon neighbourhoods resounded to the noise of mass clapping to mark the end of the strike.
Mass demonstrations that rocked Myanmar’s cities and towns immediately after Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted in February were met by a brutal and indiscriminate crackdown by the military.
Those still taking to the streets to protest now do so in smaller flashmobs lasting just minutes in order to avoid arrest.
Myanmar soldiers rammed a car into one such rally in Yangon last Sunday, killing five people, according to local media.
The junta maintains that only three protesters were injured in that incident.
On Monday a junta court ordered Aung San Suu Kyi jailed for two years for incitement against the military and flouting coronavirus restrictions during elections that her party won resoundingly last year.
She faces a raft of other charges, including violating the official secrets act, corruption and electoral fraud, and faces decades in prison if convicted on all counts.
Source: Bangkok Post