Protesters continued to gather across Myanmar on Monday following a night in which authorities cut the country’s internet access and increased the security presence in major cities seeking to curtail demonstrations.
Thousands of engineers marched on the streets of Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, chanting and holding signs that read: “Free our leader,” “Who stands with justice?” and “Stop arresting people illegally at midnight.”
In Yangon, the country’s most populous city, fewer protesters gathered on Monday due to the loss of the internet and reports of military vehicles on the streets. Nevertheless, several hundred anti-coup demonstrators were outside the Central Bank of Myanmar building, where there were also military trucks full of soldiers, riot police, water-cannon trucks and armoured personnel carriers.
At the bank, several hundred protesters held up signs calling for colleagues to join the CDM – the civil disobedience movement that has seen doctors, engineers and others in Myanmar refuse to work until the military releases elected political leaders and returns the country to civilian rule.
An armoured vehicle and about six trucks carrying soldiers were parked nearby, a witness said.
When the military seized power, it detained Suu Kyi and members of her government and prevented recently elected lawmakers from opening a new session of Parliament. The junta, led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, said it stepped in because the government failed to properly investigate allegations of fraud in last year’s election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won in a landslide. The state election commission refuted that contention, saying there is no evidence to support it.
An order on Sunday that appeared to be from the Ministry of Transport and Communications told mobile phone service providers to shut down internet connections from 1am to 9am on Monday. It circulated widely on social media, as did a notice said to be from service provider Oredoo Myanmar containing the same details.
On Sunday, ambassadors from the United States and Canada and 12 European nations called on Myanmar’s security forces to refrain from violence against those “protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government”.
They condemned the arrests of political leaders and activists as well as the military’s interference with communications.
“We support the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy, freedom, peace, and prosperity,” they said in a joint statement issued late Sunday night. “The world is watching.”
AP, with Reuters