Three pro-democracy protesters were killed on Monday (8) in Myanmar, amid protests against the country’s military dictatorship. A general strike against the new regime is also gaining momentum.
Banks, business establishments and factories remained closed after unions called for more strikes and smother the economy, in order to put pressure on the military command. Civil servants, farmers and private sector workers joined activists in the protests.
In Rangoon, textile factories, shopping malls, banks and post offices remained closed on Monday. Nine labor associations called for “complete and prolonged economic disruption” to put pressure on the military.
The military junta has warned officials that they will be sacked if they do not return to work.
The protests are against the generals’ coup of February 1, which toppled a civilian government. The military says there was fraud in the November election, but provided no evidence. They promise to hold a new election, even though they haven’t given a deadline for it.
On Monday, the crackdown was firm. In Pyapon, 100 kilometers from Rangoon, a 30-year-old man was shot and died, according to a witness. Two others were killed in Myitkyina, where several explosions were heard.
In Myitkyina, a Catholic nun, dressed in a white costume, knelt in the street and begged the police not to shoot, according to images published by the local press.
In Rangoon, the country’s financial capital, security forces surrounded around 200 protesters in an area of Sanshaung neighborhood and are not allowed to return home.
Many women joined the protests on International Women’s Day. Near the town of Dawei, hundreds of members of the Karen ethnic group displayed their flags and called for an end to the dictatorship.
The government also attacked the press. Security forces carried out an operation at the headquarters of the Myanmar Now newspaper and took computers, servers and a printer, editor-in-chief Swe Win told AFP.
“We are the first newsroom attacked by the regime. We work in fear, but the invasion of our workplace confirms that the junta will not tolerate accountability at all for its crimes,” he said. added.
The publication license for Myanmar Now, as well as the independent vehicles Mizzima, DVB, Khit Thit and 7 Day, was later revoked, following an order from the Ministry of Information, according to state-run television channel MRTV.
Security forces were deployed Sunday evening in several districts of Rangoon and occupied several public hospitals in the economic capital of the country. The NGO Doctors for Human Rights condemned the occupation and said it was “appalled by the new wave of violence”.
On Saturday evening, operations took place against the leaders of the National League for Democracy (LND), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s main civilian leader, who was deposed and arrested during the coup. Several were arrested and a representative of the local movement, Khin Maung Latt, was beaten to death.
MPs who fail to recognize the legitimacy of the coup and have created a committee to represent the civilian government are charged with high treason, an offense punishable by death or 22 years in prison, the council warned.
More than 50 protesters have been killed since the coup d’état of Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi in 1991. Hundreds of people have been arrested.
The state press denies the involvement of the police and the army in the massacre of civilians and asserts that the security forces “must contain the disturbances in accordance with the law”.
As the situation becomes more and more complicated, the inhabitants of the country are on the run. Nearly 50, including eight police officers who refused to participate in the crackdown, have arrived in neighboring India, whose borders are crowded.
The generals who came to power ignore the protests of the international community. They said there was fraud in the November election, but without providing any evidence. The United States has announced sanctions against the country’s military. On Friday, the UN Security Council failed to reach agreement on a joint statement on whether or not to condemn the coup. Discussions will continue this week.