Violence, protests mark anniversary of Myanmar army rule

Jan 31, 2022, 11:35 PM | Updated: Feb 1, 2022, 5:01 pm
In this image provided by Myanmar state broadcaster MRTV, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman ...

In this image provided by Myanmar state broadcaster MRTV, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of the State Administration Council, gives a televised address on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Opponents of military rule in Myanmar on Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the army's seizure of power with a nationwide strike to show their strength and solidarity amid concern about what has become an increasingly violent contention for power. (MRTV via AP)

(MRTV via AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — A nationwide strike in Myanmar on Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the army’s seizure of power, as protests and sporadic violence across the country renewed international concern over the ongoing struggle for power.

Photos and video on social media showed that a countrywide “silent strike” had emptied out streets in Myanmar’s largest city of Yangon and other towns as people stayed home and businesses shut their doors in a show of opposition to army rule.

Violence was reported as well, as the country faces an insurgency that some U.N. experts now characterize as a civil war.

Local media said an explosion killed at least two people and injured dozens at a pro-military rally in a town on the eastern border with Thailand. The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

The military’s takeover on Feb. 1, 2021, ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party was about to begin a second term in office after winning a landslide victory in the previous year’s November election.

Widespread nonviolent demonstrations followed the army’s takeover, but armed resistance arose after protests were put down with lethal force. About 1,500 civilians have been killed but the government has been unable to suppress the opposition.

The anniversary has attracted international attention, especially from the United States and Western nations critical of the military takeover.

President Joe Biden in a statement called for the military to free Suu Kyi and other detainees, and return Myanmar on a path to democracy.

The U.S. on Monday imposed new sanctions on Myanmar officials, adding to those targeting top military officers. The measures freeze any assets the listed officials may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them. Britain and Canada announced similar measures.

A statement from the office of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted “an intensification in violence” and “humanitarian crises” that it said required an urgent response.

Scattered pro-democracy rallies were held before the start of the nationwide strike in the early morning, when security forces are less likely to be out on the streets. Protesters including Buddhist monks carried banners and chanted anti-military slogans in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay and Sagaing.

Many also held up three fingers, the resistance salute adopted from “The Hunger Games” movie that pro-democracy demonstrators in neighboring Thailand have also used.

Opposition fighters also claimed to have carried out bombings Tuesday in 11 neighborhoods of Yangon — targeting a police station and homes of military officers, among other sites. A message posted on Facebook by a group calling itself the Yangon Region Military Command made no mention of casualties.

Opposition militants carry out daily hit-and run guerrilla attacks, while the military generally engages in larger-scale assaults that are blamed for many civilian casualties.

In the town of Myitkyina in northern Kachin state, a bombing at a police station early Tuesday led to officers firing on a car fleeing the scene, according to local news outlet The 74 Media, when a stray bullet killed a seven-year-old boy living nearby.

Authorities had threatened shopkeepers with arrest if they closed for the opposition’s strike, but those that were open Tuesday appeared to have few if any customers.

Since last week, the government had issued official warnings in state-run media that anyone taking part in the strike could face imprisonment and the confiscation of their property.

Dozens of business owners who had announced plans to close were arrested, according to reports in the state-run newspaper Myanma Alinn Daily.

In Yangon and Mandalay, city administrators also scheduled special events to draw attention away from strike calls this week, including a cycling contest. Municipal workers in Yangon were instructed to attend the event, according to leaked documents posted on social media.

Several pro-military demonstrations, widely believed to have been organized by the authorities, were also held.

In Tachileik, a border town in Shan state in eastern Myanmar, an explosion at a pro-government rally killed 2 people and injured at least 37 others — including six critically wounded, according to a reporter with the online local Tachileik News Agency.

The reporter, who declined to give his name because of the political sensitivity of such news, told The Associated Press in a text message that most of the marchers were ex-soldiers or villagers brought in for the demonstration.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, which was also reported by other news outlets.

Early in the day, leaders of the opposing sides released speeches online to mark the anniversary of the army’s takeover.

Duwa Lashi La, acting president of the opposition’s National Unity Government, vowed that his group will carry on with the people’s “revolution” against military rule. The NUG, established by elected lawmakers, considers itself the country’s legitimate administrative body and has won the loyalty of many citizens. The military has branded it a “terrorist” organization.

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, leader of the military-installed government, delivered an hourlong speech where he pledged to work toward a “genuine and disciplined multiparty democratic system”.

Myanmar’s military said it seized power because there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 polls — an allegation that independent election observers have said they’ve seen no serious evidence for..

“The international community must take strong, meaningful steps to cut the junta’s access to weapons, funds and legitimacy,” said Thomas Andrews, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation in Myanmar.

“Recent months have seen an even further escalation of violence,” he said, adding that Myanmar’s military had carried out “mass killings, attacks on hospitals and humanitarian targets, and the bombing and burning of villages.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Models wear creations as part of the Benetton women's Spring Summer 2023 collection presented in Mi...
Associated Press

Benetton, Ferrari close Milan Fashion Week with bold moves

MILAN (AP) — Milan Fashion Week closed Sunday after five days of mostly womenswear previews that celebrated diversity and renewal, with more designers of color represented than ever and a host of new talent making their debuts at major fashion houses. The Italian fashion council was also putting the spotlight on sustainability with the return […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

‘Eco-warrior” and Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman dies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Dave Foreman, a self-proclaimed eco-warrior who was a prominent member of the radical environmentalism movement and a co-founder of Earth First!, has died. He was 74. The New Mexico-based Rewilding Institute, which Foreman founded as a think tank to develop long-term land conservation plans, said on its website that he died […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Heavy crane topples onto downtown Oklahoma City building

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A 60-ton crane being used to remove a video display board from a downtown Oklahoma City building toppled onto the building that houses several news offices, officials said. The crane’s operator suffered minor injuries in the Saturday afternoon accident. Two other men working in the bucket of a small crane and […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

San Diego County to pay $1.35M over 2018 in-custody death

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego County and other defendants have agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the mother of a Mexican citizen who died after sheriff’s deputies arrested him in 2018, officials said. The lawsuit filed by Dolores Rosales, of Tijuana, alleged deputies used excessive force when they took […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Swiss voters OK plan to raise retirement age for women to 65

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss voters on Sunday narrowly backed a proposal to raise the retirement age for women from 64 to 65, public broadcaster SRF reported. A separate proposal to impose stricter animal welfare rules for livestock was heading for a big defeat, SRF also reported. The change means the Swiss pension system would require […]
11 hours ago
FILE - In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by th...
Associated Press

Analysis: Latest Iran protests likely not last for Tehran

Only glimpses of videos that make it online show the protests convulsing Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the nation’s morality police. But those flashes show that public anger across the country, once only simmering, is now boiling. The demonstrations surrounding the death of Mahsa Amini — and […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Violence, protests mark anniversary of Myanmar army rule