Monday Feb 8th, saw the Burmese military declaring martial law in parts of Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city. This is a consequence of nationwide rallies protesting against the coup. Hundreds of thousands of citizens across the country are participating in the rallies. This has led to a stern warning against further protests coming from the military.
Details of the martial law
The Burmese general administration department mentions the details of the martial law in in a statement. It states seven townships in Mandalay come under martial law. Groups of more than five people are banned from protesting or gathering. Along with that, a curfew will run from 8pm until 4am.
In Ayeyarwaddy, a township further south, a similar declaration has been made. Tonight, Burmese citizens await further announcements concerning other localities.
One Mandalay township statement mentions that “This order is applied until further notice.“
The statement says “Some people … are behaving in a worrying way that can harm the safety of public and law enforcement. Such behaviours can affect stability, safety of people, law enforcement, and peaceful existence of villages and could create riots, that’s why this order bans gathering, speaking in public, protest by using vehicles, rallies.”
Demonstrations are sweeping most of the country. The junta is refraining from the use of deadly force for now. However, riot police did fire water cannons in an attempt to disperse a gathering of thousands in Naypyitaw due to mounting pressure.
Detained by the military
Last week saw the military detaining Madam Aung San Suu Kyi and many members of her National League for Democracy party. The detention ends nearly 10 years of partial civilian rule. It has received condemnation by the international community.
State broadcaster MRTV signalled a potential crackdown on protesters. It warned that any opposition to the junta was unlawful. The warning is due to an increase in the wave of defiance to the military rule.
An announcer on MRTV read out a statement which said “Action must be taken according to the law with effective steps against offences which disturb, prevent and destroy the state’s stability, public safety and the rule of law.“
Initial stage of the rallies
The first major outpourings of opposition to the coup took place over the weekend. Tens of thousands of Burmese citizens overcame a nationwide internet blockade and held protest rallies.
The movement built on Monday has protests running across the country as well as started a nationwide strike.
Massive crowds swamped the nation’s commercial capital, Yangon. The crowds outnumbered participants in the previous day’s rally and even halted traffic flow.
Protesters chanted “Down with military dictatorship” and “release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and arrested people.” The three-finger salute which is a symbol of their movement was flashed. Drivers of passing cars gave their support by honking their car horns.
The weekend saw momentum gained via rallies calling for a nationwide strike. Textile workers, civil servants and railway employees leaving work in the commercial hub witnessed an ongoing rally.
Words from protesters
A protester, Hnin Thazin, is a 28-year-old garment factory worker. Thazin told AFP, “This is a work day, but we aren’t going to work even if our salary will be cut.“
Chit Min, is an 18-year-old construction worker. This protester says his loyalty to Suu Kyi outweighs concerns about his financial situation. With that in mind, he is joining the Yangon rally.
Min told AFP “I am jobless now for a week because of the military coup, and I am worried for my survival.“
In Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, large crowds marched on. Many were clutching photos of Suu Kyi and waving the red flags of her party.
Burmese citizens believe the deposed leader is in detention in Naypyitaw. Police were attempting to disperse thousands of people gathering on a highway there.
According to a photographer on the scene, two demonstrators were injured by a water cannon firing into the crowd.
There were reports of huge rallies from Muse bordering China, to the southern cities of Dawei and Hpa-an. The early evening saw protesters beginning to disperse.
Civilian rule has lasted for a decade now in Myanmar. Prior to this, the military controlled the government for decades.
9th February 2021 23:00
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