Most businesses are closed in troubled Myanmar in a general strike that has been called on Monday to oppose the military coup of February 1.
Early in the day, protesters had already gathered in their thousands, despite a veiled threat from the junta that confrontation could lead to deaths.
Three weeks after the coup, the Myanmar military has not succeeded in stopping daily protests and a civil disobedience movement calling for the reversal of the army take-over and release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In the largest city of Yangon, which has become the rallying-point for the protests, thousands of demonstrators noted the significance of the date 22 – 2 – 2021, comparing it to protests on 8th, August 1988 when a previous generation staged anti-military marches which were bloodily suppressed.
This time, the response of security forces has been less deadly, but at least three protesters have now been killed after two were shot dead in the second city of Mandalay on Saturday while one policeman reportedly died of injuries in protests.
The deaths in Mandalay did not discourage protesters on Sunday, when they turned out again in tens of thousands there and in Yangon.
On Monday, state-owned media MRTV warned protesters against further action.
“Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life,” it said.
On Monday, February 1, Myanmar’s military, which has been the de facto ruler in the Southeast Asian nation for fifty years, overthrew the democratically elected government of Ms. Suu Kyi, accusing it of rigging last November’s national election.
Almost immediately, the coup leaders arrested scores of government officials and pro-democracy activists, including Ms. Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior members of the then-governing National League for Democracy Party.