Three wounded as hundreds of thousands of protesters defy Myanmar junta
Supporters of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi clashed with police on Friday as hundreds of thousands joined nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations in defiance of the junta’s call to halt mass gatherings.
Mostly peaceful protests erupted around the Southeast Asian country in the biggest mass demonstrations so far against last week’s military coup, a day after Washington slapped sanctions on the generals who led the takeover.
Three people were injured when police fired rubber bullets to break up a crowd of tens of thousands of protesters in the southeastern town of Mawlamyine, a Red Cross official told Reuters.
Footage broadcast by Radio Free Asia showed police charging at protesters, grabbing one of them and smashing him in the head. Stones are then thrown at police before the shots are fired.
“Three got shot – one woman in the womb, one man on his cheek and one man on his arm,” said Red Cross official Kyaw Myint, who witnessed the clash. “The crowd is still growing,” he added.
In the biggest city Yangon, hundreds of doctors in white duty coats and scrubs marched past the golden Shwedagon pagoda, the country’s holiest Buddhist site, while in another part of town, football fans wearing team kits marched with humorous placards denouncing the military.
Other demonstrations took place in the capital Naypyitaw, the coastal town of Dawei, and in Myitkyina, the capital of northern Kachin state, where young men played rap music and staged a dance-off.
Social media giant Facebook said it would cut the visibility of content run by Myanmar’s military, saying they had “continued to spread misinformation” after seizing power in the February 1 coup.
As Washington announced sanctions, European Union lawmakers on Thursday called for action from their countries and Britain said it was considering measures to punish the coup leaders.
Supporters of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) welcomed the U.S. sanctions but said tougher action was needed to force the military to release Suu Kyi from house arrest and recognise the NLD’s landslide victory in November elections. (Reuters)