Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Myanmar’s major cities, chanting slogans against the military junta and demanding the release of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained politicians on Sunday, as a two-day internet blackout was lifted.
In five of Myanmar’s seven largest cities, car horns honked and protesters waved the red peacock flag of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and been adopted as the main symbol of defiance to the now week-old coup.
There have been no reports of violence after two days of swelling street protests, in response to the coup by military leaders who justified their takeover with the unsubstantiated claim that the landslide victory by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in a Nov. 8 election was fraudulent.
In Yangon, the biggest city in the country of 54 million people, tens of thousands of protestors marched on city hall and thronged around Sule Pagoda, the center of 2007 monk-lead protests and other pro-democracy movements against five decades of direct military rule.
“There are more protesters on street today than yesterday,” Phyu Sin Thu, a Yangon resident who participated in the protest, told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
“So far, there has been no violence. As the protests went on, more and more people joined in to the marching crowd. The security forces were present but they didn’t stop us from marching. They didn’t try to disperse us either,” she added.
In Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, demonstrators marched around the moat of Mandalay palace, where by midday the crowd grew to thousands marching on foot and motorbikes.
Internet access was restored in most parts of the country by mid-day Sunday. In a move that rights groups warned would leave millions vulnerable to abuses and cut off from coronavirus information, authorities suspended telephone and internet service Saturday, following the suspension of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,
“They always use measures like cutting internet access or electricity to suppress us,” said a resident of Mandalay, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
“The more they suppress us, the more we will resist them. We are going to protest more in coming days,” the citizen told RFA.