Myanmar’s regime has deployed extra troops around the country and blocked the internet on Monday as it exaggerated a clampdown on anti-coup demonstrations, but defiant demonstrators again took to the streets.
The military has increasingly escalated efforts to quash revolt against their seizure of power two weeks ago, which saw civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi detained along with hundreds of others, including members of her democratically-elected government.
Suu Kyi and President Win Myint are expected to be quizzed by a court “through video conferencing” in the country’s capital of Naypyidaw later in the week, said lawyer Khin Maung Zaw, who said, he had not been able to make contact with either client.
The generals forced an hours-long internet shutdown on Monday morning and intensified military’s presence across the country overnight, including armoured vehicles in Yangon, the nation’s commercial hub and biggest city.
Fresh protests — though much smaller than in previous days — again widening in the city, including near the central bank where troops were deployed.
“Patrolling with armoured vehicles means they are threatening people,” said 46-year-old Nyein Moe, among the more than 1,000 gathered in front of the bank.
“People are marching on the streets and they don’t care to be arrested or shot. We can’t stop now. The fear in our mind is going away.” Large crowds also gathered outside the Chinese and US embassies in Yangon, carrying signs that read “Get out dictator”.
By afternoon, news of a strong police presence at the Yangon headquarters of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party drew thousands to the scene.
They chanted “End military dictatorship” as the officers stood guard.
“About seven police officers searched for about 30 minutes (for two MPs),” NLD member Soe Win said after the security forces left without finding them. “Now everything is settled.”
A protest led by student groups in Naypyidaw on Monday was met with force after the gathering had retreated. Police also arrested dozens of the young protesters, though some were later released.
“We were peaceful and even apologised… but then they fired water cannon,” a high school student said, refusing to provide a name for fear of repercussions.
Violence also broke out in Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, leaving at least six people injured after police used slingshots against protesters and fired rubber bullets into the crowd.
Demonstrators retaliated by throwing bricks, said a rescue team member who assisted with the injured.
“One of them needed oxygen because he was hit with a rubber bullet in his rib,” rescue team head Khin Maung Tin said.