Thousands protest Myanmar coup after night of fear, security patrols
February 14, 2021 11:42 AM NPT
Demonstrators hold up signs during a protest against the military coup and demanding the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 13, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer
MYANMAR, Feb 14: Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Myanmar’s major cities for a ninth straight day of anti-coup demonstrations on Sunday, after a fearful night as residents formed patrols and the army rolled back laws protecting freedoms.
Engineering students marched through downtown Yangon, the biggest city, wearing white and carrying placards demanding the release of former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since Myanmar’s military overthrew her elected government on Feb. 1.
A convoy of thousands on motorbikes and in cars also drove through the capital Naypyitaw, with protesters holding up images of Suu Kyi’s face.
Her detention, on charges of importing walkie-talkies, is due to expire on Monday. Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, could not be reached for comment on what was set to happen.
More than 384 people have been detained since the coup, the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said, in a wave of mostly nightly arrests.
Many protesters in Yangon carried signs calling to authorities to “stop kidnapping people at night”.
Residents banded together late on Saturday to patrol streets in Yangon and second city Mandalay, fearing arrest raids as well as common crime after the junta ordered the release of thousands of prisoners.
In different neighbourhoods, groups of mostly young men banged on pots and pans to sound the alarm as they chased down what they believed to be suspicious characters.
Also late on Saturday, the army reinstated a law requiring people to report overnight visitors to their homes, suspended laws constraining security forces from detaining suspects or searching private property without court approval, and ordered the arrest of well-known backers of mass protests.
The coup has prompted the biggest street protests in more than a decade and has been denounced by Western countries, with the United States announcing some sanctions on the ruling generals and other countries also considering measures.