Widespread Anti-Coup Protests in Major Myanmar Cities on Day 5

Anti-coup demonstrators faced tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons on Tuesday.

4 min read
Demonstrators display three-fingered salute, a symbol of resistance at an intersection in Yangon, Myanmar Wednesday, 10 February 2021. 

Myanmar is witnessing widespread protests on the fifth consecutive day in major cities on Wednesday, 10 February, after anti-coup demonstrators faced tear gas shellings, rubber bullets and water cannons on Tuesday.

A report by the Bloomberg Quint suggests that as many as 100,000 demonstrators will join the protests on Wednesday, including students, teachers, monks and government workers.

Serious clashes on Tuesday in Myanmar’s capital city, Naypyidaw, saw at least 20 protesters being injured by rubber bullets. The city of Mandalay saw 36 protesters being detained, and contained by the use of tear gas and water cannons, reported Bloomberg Quint.

Yangon, a commercial city, has protesters gathering in front of embassies and UN offices, demanding the police to stop the violence against protesters. Photographers were seen of demonstrators sitting in small, rubber pools, as an act of defiance against the use of water cannons, added the report.

  • Protesters display placards with a defaced image of Myanmar military Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and calling for the release of detained Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Protesters continued to gather Tuesday morning in major cities breaching Myanmars new military rulers ban of public gathering of five or more issued on Monday intended to crack down on peaceful public protests opposing their takeover. Placards in the front read as” No dictatorship.”
  • Demonstrators display three-fingered salute, a symbol of resistance at an intersection in Yangon, Myanmar Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Protesters continued to gather Wednesday morning in Yangon breaching Myanmars new military rulers decrees that effectively banned peaceful public protests in the country’s two biggest cities. 
  • Protesters gather outside the Hledan Center in Yangon, Myanmar, on Feb. 6, 2021. Protests in Myanmar against the military coup that removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s government from power have grown in recent days despite official efforts to make organizing them difficult or even illegal.
  • Protesters run after police shot warning shots and used water cannon to disperse them during a protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Police cracked down Tuesday on the demonstrators protesting against Myanmar���s military takeover who took to the streets in defiance of new protest bans.
  • A protest supporter offers flowers and kneels on a road before a police officer in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Feb. 6, 2021
The military declared a one-year state of emergency on 1 February, staging a coup right before the new Parliament, under the leadership of the National League of Democracy (NLD), was to convene its first session following their sweeping victory in November 2020. Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures were detained from the ruling party.

The military has also imposed restrictions on public gatherings and a night curfew in the cities witnessing protests.

The report added that the protesters have three main demands, which are being circulated using social media:

  1. Release of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi
  2. Recognising NLD’s win in the 2020 November elections
  3. The military must withdraw from politics, and abolish the 2008 Constitution that allows Generals a veto in the Parliament and the control of ministries.

Why the Military Coup?

On Monday, Min Aung Hlaing defended the takeover citing voter fraud – a claim the election commission has disputed – and added that elections will be held again after the emergency is over, reported Bloomberg Quint.

According to news agency IANS, the military-backed opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Myanmar has been disputing the results of the general elections held on 8 November 2020, in which the NLD secured way above the 322 seats required to form the government.

It was the second general polls since 2011, when the military rule ended in the country. The reports of a coup surfaced after the country’s Army earlier last week warned that it will take action if the complaints about alleged election fraud were not addressed.

Sources had earlier told IANS that a military coup appeared to be a likely outcome given China's grip over the internal situation in the country.

Myanmar's military junta, which ruled the country through the ’90s and 2000s, has had the backing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). After a long struggle against the military regime for nearly two decades, Suu Kyi-led Myanmar transitioned into a partial democracy in the last five years.

Suu Kyi, a former Nobel laureate, is the citizens’ de facto leader. However, she faced widespread criticism from the West when her government expelled around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims accused of perpetrating Islamist terrorism and propagating separatism. In a case filed by a group of Islamic countries at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, she has been accused of genocide of Rohingyas.

India, US Express Concern

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India on Monday expressed concerns over the developments in Myanmar and urged that the rule of law must be upheld.

“We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely,” the MEA said.

The US, too, expressed concern saying that it was ‘alarmed’ at the reports emerging from Myanmar.

“The US is alarmed by reports that Burmese military has taken steps to undermine country’s democratic transition, including arrest of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials in Burma.

President Biden has been briefed by NSA, said White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki who added, “We continue to affirm our strong support for Burma’s democratic institutions and in coordination with our regional partners, urge the military and all other parties to adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law, and to release those detained today,” quoted ANI.

The United Nations too condemned the detention of Suu Kyi and other political leaders of the country.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the detention of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other political leaders on the eve of the opening session of Myanmar’s new Parliament,” Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General said in a statement.

“He expresses his grave concern regarding the declaration of the transfer of all legislative, executive and judicial powers to the military. These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar,” the statement further said.

(With inputs from Bloomberg Quint, ANI, IANS and Reuters.)

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