Myanmar’s military junta deployed troops and tanks in Yangon on Monday, as protests against the Feb. 1 military coup continued in the country’s largest city, eyewitnesses said.
Demonstrations have now entered the second week, with La Min, a Yangon-based freelance photographer, saying it was the first time that soldiers and military tanks were deployed near the protest sites.
Even though the Myanmar authorities have escalated their crackdown and arrested a number of demonstrators, protesters have again taken to the streets in different parts of the country to continue their resentments against the coup.
In Yangon, thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the country’s central bank building in the Yankin neighborhood on Monday, urging workers to join the civil disobedience campaign launched by health workers.
“After private banks, protesters have started targeting the central bank. Soldiers and military tanks have been deployed near the protest site,” said La Min, who was covering the protests near the central bank building.
On late Sunday, police fired warning shots and used water cannons against the demonstrators, refusing to disperse in Myitkyina, the capital of northern Kachin state. Several people, including five local journalists, were reportedly detained during the crackdown.
Also, internet services have been suspended across the country on Monday.
Aye Nyein Phyu, a staff member of a private telecommunication company, told Anadolu Agency: “The military junta is seeking the legitimacy of its unconstitutional and unlawful takeover. The brutal crackdown on us will never be recognized by the international community.”
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, protesters shared their concern that the junta would use intimidation tactics to prevent people from protesting the coup.
The military already had a lion’s share in Myanmar’s constitution, said Myo Min, a 22-year-old student at Yangon Medical University. The revocation of the constitution and the ouster of a duly elected government is “the stupidest thing I have ever seen,” he said.
“So, it is up to them whether or not to shoot us or kill us, but we have to continue our protests because we cannot let them take us back to the Dark Age,” he said.
Suu Kyi’s party headquarters surrounded by troops
Police and military troops also surrounded the headquarters of Myanmar’s former ruling party in Yangon, a party official told Anadolu Agency.
Police blocked a section of Shwegonedaing Road in Yangon’s Bahan township, where National League for Democracy’s headquarters is situated, said Khin San Hlaing from the party, adding soldiers in trucks were also deployed in the area.
She said 16 senior members and lawmakers were having a meeting when the security forces arrived at the party’s headquarters.
“Police asked for access into the office building, but the party members did not open the entrance gate. We don’t know what they [security forces] want to do,” she added.
There were no immediate signs of security forces breaking into the building, with protesters gathering near the party headquarters. The troops left the area after three hours.
Meanwhile, foreign ambassadors in Myanmar released a joint statement on Sunday calling on the security forces to refrain from violence against the protesters and civilians.