Myanmar: After a night of fear, tens of thousands resume protests

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Feb 14, 2021, 01:29 PM(IST)

Myanmar protests Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Citizens are reportedly worried that the military junta has ordered release of prisoners so that they could foment unrest and spread fear

Tens of thousands of citizens in Myanmar resumed protest against the military junta after a night of fear. On Saturday, army rolled back laws protecting freedoms. Citizens formed patrolling parties.

Engineering students marched through downtown Yangon, the biggest city, wearing white and carrying placards demanding the release of former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since Myanmar’s military overthrew her elected government on February 1.

Part of the biggest street protests in more than a decade, a fleet of highway buses rolled slowly through the city, honking their horns in protest.

A convoy on motorbikes and in cars drove through the capital Naypyitaw. In the southeastern coastal town of Dawei, a band played drums in shadows cast by awnings as crowds marched under the hot sun. In Waimaw, in the far northern Kachin state on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, crowds carried flags and sang revolutionary songs.

Protesters were seen across the country holding pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Suu Kyi's detention on charges of importing walkie-talkies will expire on Monday. 

More than 384 people have been detained since the coup, the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.

"While the international community is condemning the coup, Min Aung Hlaing is using every tool he has to instigate fears and instabilities," activist Wai Hnin Pwint Thon from the UK-based rights group Burma Campaign UK said on Twitter, referring to the army chief.

Many protesters in Yangon carried signs calling to authorities to “stop kidnapping people at night”.

Also Read | Myanmar army suspends laws limiting forces, orders arrest of protest backers

Residents banded together late on Saturday to patrol streets in Yangon and the country's second-largest city Mandalay, fearing arrest raids as well as common crime after the junta ordered the release of thousands of prisoners.

Prisoner released to incite fear?

Citizens are reportedly worried that the military junta has ordered release of prisoners so that they could foment unrest and spread fear. This, the citizens worried, was a strategy to deter them from protesting against the military junta.

Yangon residents caught and handed over people they suspected of being released criminals over to police on Sunday (February 14), worried that they might instigate violence in their communities.

Worries about criminal activity have soared since Friday (February 12), when the junta announced it would free 23,000 prisoners, saying the move was consistent with "establishing a new democratic state with peace, development and discipline" and would "please the public". Reuters could not independently verify the identification of the captured and tied up suspects in the communities.

"We think the military intends to cause violence with these (ex) criminals by getting them to infiltrate the peaceful protests. Then the military will have a reason to extend their power to crackdown on violence," said Tin Myint, a Yangon resident.

Read in App