An American woman said she joined the protest march in Yangon, Myanmar, today (Feb 9) to help locals fight for democracy.
The teacher, named Jackie, from California, said she had been living in Myanmar for around three years. She called on U.S. Democrat party politician Joe Biden to intervene.
She said: ‘Myanmar has become my home. But it affects all of us around the world when people’s freedoms and voices are taken away. If you let one country’s freedom be taken away, then all of ours is at risk.
‘I think it’s amazing that people are standing up peacefully. I don’t think anyone should have their democracy taken anyway.
On the same day as protests in Yangon, riot police fired water cannons at crowds and let off warning gunshots in the new capital Naypyidaw. Onlookers said several people demonstrating against the military coup were knocked to the ground and injured by the force of the water jets.
On the fourth consecutive day of protests, unrest escalated and military chiefs lead by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing threatened to use live rounds amid fears of a brutal crackdown.
Crowds also gathered outside the United Nations building in the former capital Yangon, where many demonstrators held portraits of leader Aung San Suu Kyi who was toppled by a military coup last Monday (Feb 1).
Locals fear a brutal crackdown in the coming days by no-nonsense military chiefs. Martial law has also been declared in parts of Mandalay and bans introduced on people gathering in crowds.
Supporters are calling for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians who were detained as army chiefs seized power.
In astonishing scenes at the weekend, large crowds wore red as they marched towards the City Hall near Sule Pagoda, which became the focal point where dozens of smaller marches all converged. Armed riot police protected the building, which is the seat of the city’s administrative body.
Hundreds of thousands of Burmese residents including families and children lined the route and applauded as protest marches passed by.
Army chiefs reacted to the mass protests by closing Internet and phone connections across the capital on Saturday (Feb 6) shortly after 11 am local time before it was restored on Sunday (Feb 7) at around 3 pm local time.
The unrest came amid anger at the military coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi, who had introduced democratic reforms to the country.
Doctors, nurses, students and residents have protested and called for the civilian government to be reinstated.
The military said in a statement that ‘all authority has been given to the top army commander and a one-year state of emergency has been declared’. Reacting to events, The White House said it was ‘alarmed’ by the developments in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.
Spokesman Jen Psaki said: ‘We continue to affirm our strong support for Burma’s democratic institutions.’ America called for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released and threatened to ‘take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed’.
Burma was governed by Britain from 1824 to 1948, during which time it became the second-wealthiest country in Southeast Asia but following independence was ruled by the military until 2011 when democratic reforms began.