Myanmar protesters defiant as junta talks of ‘exterior threats’

Mandalay (Myanmar), March 21

Demonstrators in Myanmar maintained their unflinching opposition to military rule on Sunday despite a rising death toll at the hands of security forces as the junta appeared equally determined to resist growing outside pressure to compromise.

One man was killed and several were wounded when police opened fire at a group setting up a barricade in the central town of Monywa, a doctor there said, as a community group issued a call on Facebook for blood donors.

The violence has forced people determined to resist a return to military rule after a decade of tentative steps towards democracy to think up novel ways to make their stand. Protesters in 20 places staged candle-lit protests on Saturday night and into Sunday, from the main city of Yangon to small communities in Kachin state in the north and the southernmost town of Kawthaung. Hundreds of people in the second city of Mandalay, including many medical staff in white coats, marched before sunrise in a “Dawn protest”, video posted by the Mizzima news portal showed.

“Failure of the military regime, our cause our cause … federal democracy, our cause our cause,” the crowd chanted as the sky was beginning to brighten and birds called from the trees lining the otherwise deserted streets.

Protesters in some places were joined by Buddhist monks holding candles while some people used candles to make the shape of the three-fingered protest salute. Others came out later on Sunday, including the crowd in Monywa, where police opened fire.

The spokesman for the junta was not available for comment but has previously said security forces have used force only when necessary. — Reuters

Coup denounced in Taiwan too

  • Hundreds of people from Taiwan’s Myanmar community rallied in central Taipei on Sunday to denounce the coup there, singing defiant songs and holding white and red roses in mourning for those who have died protesting the military
  • Taiwan is home to around 40,000 people originally from Myanmar, most of whom are ethnic Chinese
  • Dressed in white, holding pictures of detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi and signs condemning the coup, around 400 people protested at Taipei’s Liberty Square, mainly Sino-Burmese but also non-Chinese Myanmar citizens, Taiwanese and Hong Kongers

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