Myanmar coup: Tens of thousands protest and call for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release despite internet blackout | World News


Tens of thousands of people have marched for a second day in Myanmar’s biggest city to denounce the military coup.

Protesters in Yangon carried red balloons – the colour representing the party of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained by the military last week.

Sunday was the second day of protests and they took place despite the junta having shut down the internet and restricted phone coverage.

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Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Myanmar’s cities

A 22-year-old who came with 10 friends and asked not to be named, said: “We cannot accept the coup.

“This is for our future. We have to come out.”

A woman in her early 30s said she and her family, also at the protest, refused to be afraid, adding: “We have to join the people, we want democracy.”

There had also been protests on Saturday, with demonstrators across the country demanding the release of Ms Suu Kyi.

More from Aung San Suu Kyi

In Yangon, they chanted: “Military dictator, fail, fail; democracy, win, win.”

As they were met by more than 100 police in riot gear, they held banners reading: “Against military dictatorship.”

Protesters called for the release of their democratic leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi
Image:
Protesters called for the release of their democratic leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi

Protesters gave a three-finger salute, a symbol of defiance adopted from protesters in neighbouring Thailand, who borrowed the gesture from the Hunger Games movie franchise.

Food and water were offered to the growing numbers of protesters as they marched to gain back their hard-fought and fragile democratic rights.

Late in the evening, a rumour of Ms Suu Kyi’s release triggered noisy street celebrations, with cheering and firecrackers being let off.

Residents said the message had been shared by the military-run media Myawaddy.

But the detained leader’s lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, denied the 75-year-old had been freed and said she was still in detention.

Protesters gathered despite not having social media or the internet to organise themselves
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Protesters gathered despite not having social media or the internet to organise themselves

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) won the 8 November elections in a landslide but the military generals have refused to recognise the result, claiming it was fraudulent.

Earlier on Saturday, thousands marched to Yangon’s City Hall, with drivers honking horns and raising the three-finger salute as protesters did the same.

The protesters had mostly gone home by nightfall as a curfew set in but people banged on pots, pans and drums for the fifth night in a row in a show of resistance.

In Myanmar‘s second city, Mandalay, and its military-built capital, Naypyidaw, thousands more marched as demonstrators chanted anti-coup slogans and called for Ms Suu Kyi’s release.

Protesters brought placards calling for justice for the country
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Protesters brought placards calling for justice for the country

Despite the internet being blocked, the number of protesters continued to grow while the state-run broadcaster MRTV showed scenes praising the military.

A “national-scale internet blackout” was reported by monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory.

It said connectivity had fallen to 16% of usual levels.

Riot police were deployed to Myanmar's streets at protesters demonstrated
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Riot police were deployed to Myanmar’s streets at protesters demonstrated
The military junta took control of Myanmar on 1 February
Image:
The military junta took control of Myanmar on 1 February

Twitter and Instagram became the latest social media platforms to be blocked, following Facebook earlier this week.

Facebook, which is used by half the population, called for the junta to unblock social media.

“At this critical time, the people of Myanmar need access to important information and to be able to communicate with their loved ones,” Facebook’s head of public policy for Asia-Pacific emerging countries, Rafael Frankel, said.

The UN’s human rights office said: “Internet and communication services must be fully restored to ensure freedom of expression and access to information.”

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Aung San Suu Kyi’s party claims victory in Myanmar general election


Myanmar’s ruling party says said it has won enough seats in Parliament to form the next government.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) Party claimed victory based on its unofficial count of votes in the country’s second general election since the end of strict military rule.

Party spokesman Myo Nyunt said internal reports showed the NLD, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, had won the required 322 seats in Parliament, though no official results had been announced by the election commission.

“For the people, for the party, this is such an encouraging election result.”

The election commission is expected to announce official results later on Monday local time.

The election has been seen as a referendum on the fledgling democratic Government led by Ms Suu Kyi and the NLD, which remains hugely popular at home but has seen its reputation collapse overseas amid allegations of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Up for grabs in the election are 315 seats in the 425-member Lower House and 161 seats in the 217 seat Upper House of Parliament.

The NLD came to power after a 2015 landslide in which it won 390 seats, a benchmark Mr Nyunt said the party expected to exceed this year based on data from party agents at polling stations across the country.

A spokesman for the second biggest party, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), could not be reached for comment.

The military, which ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years until it began withdrawing from civilian politics in 2011, controls a quarter of the seats in both houses of Parliament, under a constitution it drew up and which Ms Suu Kyi and her allies want to amend.

The NLD was expected to win but with a smaller margin following the emergence of new parties and ethnic minority parties gaining support in some regions.

Some ‘utterly disappointed’ minorities unable to vote

In contrast to the wave of optimism that greeted the NLD’s landslide win in 2015, Myanmar went into this election under a cloud due to the coronavirus pandemic, economic hardship and escalating ethnic conflicts.

The election commission has yet to release data on voter turnout.

In the biggest city, Yangon, long lines of voters wearing face masks and shields formed from dawn.

But more than a million people across the country were unable to vote after polls were shut down due to insurgencies.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority confined to camps and villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, most without citizenship, were also unable to vote.

The Democracy and Human Rights Party, a Rohingya party, said in a statement it was “utterly disappointed” its people had been disenfranchised.

The election commission said polling in areas affected by conflict had to be shut down for safety reasons and only citizens were entitled to vote.

Reuters



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Aung San Suu Kyi’s party claims victory in Myanmar as its vote tally shows lead


YANGON: Myanmar’s ruling party said on Monday (Nov 9) it had won enough seats in parliament to form the next government, after reporting a lead based on its unofficial count of votes from the country’s second general election since the end of strict military rule.

Party spokesman Myo Nyunt told Reuters internal reports showed the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, had won the 322 seats in parliament needed, though no official results had been announced by the election commission.

“We thank the people,” he said. “For the people, for the party, this is such an encouraging election result.”

The Election Commission is expected to announce official results later on Monday.

Sunday’s election was seen as a referendum on the fledgling democratic government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, which remains hugely popular at home but has seen its reputation collapse overseas amid allegations of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Up for grabs in the election are 315 seats in the 425-member lower house and 161 seats in the 217-seat upper house of parliament.

The NLD came to power after a 2015 landslide in which it won a total of 390 seats, a benchmark Myo Nyunt said it expected to exceed, according to data compiled from reports by party agents at polling stations across the country.

A spokesman for the second biggest party, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) could not immediately be reached for comment.

The military, which ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years until it began withdrawing from civilian politics in 2011, controls a quarter of seats in both houses of parliament, under a constitution it drew up and which Aung San Suu Kyi and her allies want to amend.

The NLD had been expected to win but with a smaller margin following the emergence of new parties and ethnic minority parties gaining support in some regions.

SOME UNABLE TO VOTE

In contrast to the wave of optimism that greeted the NLD’s landslide win in 2015, Myanmar went into this election under a cloud of a surging COVID-19 outbreak, economic hardship and escalating ethnic conflicts.

Although Myanmar is seeing an average of 1,100 new COVID-19 cases a day – compared with a handful in early August – fears of the virus appeared not to dampen Sunday’s turnout among the 37 million registered voters.

The Election Commission has yet to release data on turnout but in the biggest city, Yangon, long lines of voters wearing face masks and shields formed from dawn.

But more than a million people across the country were unable to vote after polls were cancelled due to insurgencies.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority confined to camps and villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, most without citizenship, were also unable to vote.

The Democracy and Human Rights Party, a Rohingya party, said in a statement it was “utterly disappointed” that its people had been disenfranchised.

The election commission has said the polls in areas affected by conflict had to be cancelled for safety reasons and that only citizens were entitled to vote.

Most Rohingya are not considered Myanmar citizens but migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh even though many can trace family roots back many generations.

The United Nations has said there was genocidal intent in a 2017 army crackdown that forced 730,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

Myanmar rejects that saying its security forces were carrying out legitimate operations against Rohingya militants. 



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