Status: 02/22/2021 1:02 p.m.
Despite massive threats from the military junta, the democracy movement in Myanmar has called for a general strike today. It is the biggest protest since the military coup. Meanwhile, the EU is preparing sanctions against the regime.
Three weeks after the military seizure of power in Myanmar, protests in the country spread. Every day people take to the streets in the big cities – now tens of thousands. Resistance to the military junta has increased since several demonstrators were killed in police shots.
Today the Civil Disobedience Movement has called for a nationwide general strike. A “spring revolution” should begin, it said. The military government then announced on the state television broadcaster MRTV: “Protesters are now inciting people – especially emotional teenagers and young people – to a path of confrontation in which they will suffer the loss of human life.”
In Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, trucks drove through the streets yesterday with loudspeaker announcements warning them not to attend gatherings with more than five people. Barricades were also erected.
Rallies in all major cities
But despite the massive threats by the military junta, tens of thousands of people gathered in Yangon, Mandalay, the capital Naypyidaw and other cities in the country, according to the agency. Many business owners joined the strike call and their shops remained closed. Numerous demonstrators also gathered in front of the US embassy in Yangon. Military trucks carrying riot police took up position nearby.
One of the protesters, 22-year-old Htet Htet Hlaing, said she was afraid, but still she would not be discouraged. “We don’t want the junta, we want democracy. We want to create our own future,” she said. The 23-year-old student Kyaw Kyaw made a similar statement. “We are concerned about the oppression, but we will continue.” The Civil Disobedience Movement is committed to nonviolence. So far, there have only been rare cases of scuffles with security forces, initiated by demonstrators.
USA supports protests
The US government reiterated its support for the protest movement. Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken tweeted yesterday that the US would take decisive action “against those who perpetrate violence against the people of Burma while demanding the restoration of their democratically elected government.” His spokesman, Ned Price, said: “We call on the military to end the violence, to release all those unjustifiably detained, to stop attacks on journalists and activists and to respect the will of the people.”
The members of the security forces had to shoot back,” she said.
EU wants to prepare sanctions against military regimes
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on the military government not to use force against the demonstrators. The events in Myanmar are worrying, the Foreign Minister said before a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels. “We are actually not willing to continue to look at it without doing anything.”
All diplomatic channels will be used for de-escalation. As an “ultima ratio”, the EU also reserves the right to impose sanctions on the military. In a declaration adopted by the foreign ministers, the EU again called for “an immediate end to the state of emergency, the restoration of legitimate civil government and the opening of the newly elected parliament”.
In addition, from the EU perspective, all those arrested in the course of the coup must be released immediately and unconditionally – including President Win Myint and State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi. At the same time, the European Union promised to continue providing humanitarian aid. The sanctions that have now been prepared are to be designed in such a way that they do not harm the country’s population.
Guterres calls for an end to violence
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres once again called on the junta to put an end to repression and violence. “Respect human rights and the will of the people, as expressed in the recent elections,” said Guterres in Geneva.
The military overthrew the government on February 1 and arrested the de facto Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi. On that day, the newly elected parliament in November should have met for its first session. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NDL) party won the election by a large margin, but the military speaks of fraud.