Thousands of angry residents marched in Tachileik, northern Myanmar, on a day of mass protests against the military coup on Monday (Feb 22).
Hundreds of thousands of people around the country joined the strike, demanding that ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyo is released and army chiefs hand back power, following the military coup on February 1.
The protest – the largest yet in the country – came after at least two people were shot dead and several more injured by police in violent clashes on Saturday (Feb 20). Villagers protesting against the military coup tried to stop a ship leaving the Yadanarbon Jetty – part of a nationwide campaign of unrest that started after Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted along with other civilian politicians.
Police then allegedly retaliated with rubber bullets and live rounds. Gunshots and automatic weapons could be heard being fired.
Locals said the confrontation was sparked after staff from a shipping company joined the Civil Disobedience Movement – a nationwide attempt to force the government to release Aung San Suu Kyi – but were this morning forced to return to work. There was a confrontation shortly afterwards before reinforcements of police and military trucks arrived at the scene and chaos followed, with shots being fired.
Protests have erupted across Myanmar, or Burma, following the brutal military coup on February 1, which saw the well-like Nobel Peace Prize Laurette Aung Sang Suu Kyi detained alongside other civilian politicians.
Military chiefs seized power with force on February 1 and have reacted with brutal crackdowns, blasting locals with water cannon, firing gunshots, closing communications and enforcing curfews.
Army chiefs last reacted to the mass protests by closing Internet and phone connections across the capital. They then blasted protesters with water cannon and fired warning gunshots.
International pressure on Myanmar, still known as Burma, has grown amid the turmoil and U.S. Democrat politicians including Joe Biden have warned of sanctions on the country.
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. It changed its name to Myanmar.