Wednesday, December 1

Hundreds of people protest Myanmar coup with ‘Hunger Games poster’ as resistance spreads

In the largest demonstrations since the inauguration, protesters at two Yangon universities threw a three-finger salute, a sign of resistance borrowed from The Hunger Games films, which they adopted from anti-government protesters in neighboring Thailand.

They chanted “Long live Mother Suu”, a reference to the ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained, and “We don’t want a military dictatorship.”

Teachers from Yangon University of Education hold up posters reading Myanmar Teachers civil disobedience on Friday February 5, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP)
Protesters at two Yangon universities gave a three-finger salute, a sign of resistance taken from the “Hunger Games” movies. (AP)

“We will never be with them,” Professor Dr. Nwe Thazin said of the military at a protest at Yangon University of Education.

“We want that type of government to collapse as soon as possible.”

The opposition began with people banging pots and pans outside their windows in Yangon, the country’s largest city, under cover of darkness every night to avoid being attacked.

But now people are starting to take to the streets, including students and medical workers, some of whom are refusing to work.

Residents watch and listen from their balcony during a noise bombing campaign in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP)
People beat metal utensils to make noise in protest on February 4, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. In the days after the military coup against the elected government of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy party, the people of Myanmar have taken to the streets at night to beat utensils and metal items in a noisy campaign to make their dissatisfaction with the actions of the military junta known. (Getty)

Students have been instrumental in previous protest movements against the military dictatorship.

The army has tried to stifle the opposition with targeted arrests and by blocking Facebook to prevent users from organizing demonstrations.

Facebook is the main tool for accessing information on the internet for most people in Myanmar, where traditional media is either state controlled or self-censored due to threats of legal action by the state.

The latest politician to be arrested is Win Htein, a high-ranking member of Suu Kyi’s deposed National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

Despite that rejection, on Friday, about 200 people joined the protest at Yangon University of Education, and a similar number marched at the city’s Dagon University, with many carrying papers printed with images of red ribbons, the symbol of the civil disobedience campaign that Suu Kyi’s party has called for.

Leading that march were four students carrying the red flag adorned with a peacock. At the student union, another held a sign that read, in English, “Soldier back to barracks!”

“I think we will have to lead this movement,” said a protest student Min Han Htet.

“All the people, including the students, will have to overthrow the military junta.

“We will have to make sure that the boards never appear again in the next generation.”

The ousted leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi. (AP)

The army’s takeover of power on Monday began with the arrest of senior government officials, including Suu Kyi, who was the de facto leader of the country.

She is healthy and remains under house arrest at her official residence in the capital Naypyitaw, party spokesman Kyi Toe said.

Meanwhile, Win Htein, Suu Kyi’s longtime confidant, was brought from her Yangon home to Naypyitaw on Friday, according to Kyi Toe.

The 79-year-old man had publicly called for civil disobedience to oppose the coup.

He told British radio BBC in a phone call early Friday that he was being arrested for sedition, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

There was also at least one demonstration on Friday in Naypyitaw, which was built specifically under the previous military rule, has a strong military presence, and lacks the protest tradition of the old capital, Yangon.

Medical staff from the largest hospital in the city gathered behind a large banner condemning the coup. Medical personnel have been at the forefront of the resistance.

Another protest took place in Myanmar’s southern Tanintharyi region, where about 50 singing people marched, the online news agency Dawei Watch reported.

Convoy of Myanmar Army vehicles patrol in Mandalay, Myanmar, Wednesday, Feb.3, 2021. (AP)

According to the Myanmar Political Prisoners Assistance Association, at least 133 officials or legislators and 14 civil society activists were detained by the military in connection with their inauguration, although some have already been released.

The NLD has said that Suu Kyi and the ousted President Win Myint are being held on minor charges unrelated to their official duties, which many view simply as a legal appearance for the military to detain them.

“The Burmese military must renounce the power it has taken, release the defenders, activists and officials they have detained, lift restrictions on telecommunications and refrain from violence,” Biden said Thursday at the US State Department in Washington, using the former name of Myanmar.

The UN Security Council, in its first statement on the subject, “emphasized the need to defend democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

While the United States and others have described the military’s actions as a coup, the Security Council’s unanimous statement did not.

Anti-coup protests also took place on Friday in India, Indonesia and South Korea, sometimes led by people from Myanmar.

Myanmar refugees in India take part in a protest against the overthrow of the elected government of Myanmar and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in New Dehi, India, on Friday, February 5, 2021. (AP)

The military seized power shortly before a new session of parliament was called, accusing the Suu Kyi government of refusing to address allegations of voting irregularities in elections that her party overwhelmingly won.

The state electoral commission has said it found no evidence of fraud.

The army has taken over all state powers and has formed a new electoral commission to investigate allegations of fraud.

He has said that he will hold new elections in a year and hand over power to the winner.

Myanmar was under military rule for five decades after the 1962 coup, and Suu Kyi’s five years as leader had been her most democratic period, despite continued use of repressive colonial-era laws.

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