Tens of Thousands in Myanmar Protest Against Military Coup Despite Internet Blackout

Demonstrators protest against the military coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 6, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Myanmar on Saturday in the first major demonstration since the military seized power, despite a nationwide internet blackout imposed to stifle dissent.

In the main city Yangon, protesters chanted “down with the military dictatorship” and carried images of the ousted leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint, whose party won a landslide election in November. The military detained both in raids early on Monday morning and they have not been seen in public since.

“Tell the world what has happened here,” one of the protesters said. “The world needs to know.”

The military shut down the internet across the country in an attempt to stop the protests. The NetBlocks Internet Observatory reported that connectivity had fallen to 16% of ordinary levels by early afternoon. The military had already blocked Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Myanmar’s military has shown that it believes it can “shut the world out and do whatever it wants,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.

“They’re going to pull down the shutters and intimidate, arrest and abuse everybody who is daring to speak up. The question is how long people are able to do this and whether there will be any splits in ranks within the police or the military.”

The state-run broadcaster MRTV played scenes praising the military all day on Saturday, according to Reuters.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Rebecca Ratcliffe