Protests against the coup in Burma grow after the Army repression

Asia Correspondent



Crowds in Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyidaw, Inle Lake and practically all over Myanmar, the official name of the ancient Burma. A human river floods this beautiful Southeast Asian country to fight for its young democracy, threatened by the coup that the Army gave on February 1 against the Government of the Nobel Peace Prize. Aung San Suu Kyi.

Following the weekend crackdown, which claimed at least two lives and dozens injured, millions of people have taken over the main Burmese cities to join a new day of general strike. Called the «Revolution of the Five Twos»To be celebrated this February 22, remembers the Uprising of the “Four Eights” of August 8, 1988 against the military dictatorship of that time, which ended in a bloodbath a month later.

But not even such a tragic memory has daunted the protesters, who continue to defy the soldiers commanded by General Min Aung Hlaing, the new “strong man” of the country. According to the newspaper ‘The Irrawaddy’, the general strike has been called by 25 organizations of all kinds, from political parties to student and agrarian unions through religious, professional and intellectual groups, and is already the largest mobilization since the coup. “Today’s protests are much bigger than before, with more roads and highways cut off and stores closed everywhere. Today is more of a general strike in the sense that no one has gone to work. In addition to the shops, the state-owned companies, the Treasury departments, the engineers, the doctors… have closed, ”explains Thompson Chau, a journalist from the local Frontier media to the BBC.

As shown by the social networks on the internet, which have been cut off during the night and part of the morning, the crowd has taken to the streets despite the repression that the Army carried out during the weekend. On Saturday, at least two people were shot dead by riot police in Mandalay, the second largest city in the country, during a strike at a shipyard.

According to the UN Special Rapporteur for Burma, Tom AndrewsThe infamous 33rd Light Infantry Division, best known for its massacres in 2017 against Muslims of the Rohingya ethnic group in the state of Rohingya, participated in the crushing of that protest. Rajáin. This is seen in some photos of the soldiers disseminated on social networks, where the emblem ’33’ is distinguished on their camouflage uniforms. “I am appalled at the loss of more lives, including that of a teenager, as the military junta increases its brutality in Burma. From water cannons to rubber balls and tear gas and now troops shooting peaceful protesters. This madness must stop! ”Andrews wrote on his Twitter. In addition, he expressed concern about a public notice from the authorities, who warned that “the protesters are inciting people to a path of confrontation where they will suffer the loss of more lives.” In turn, Andrews reminded the Burmese Army that, unlike in 1988, ‘the actions of the security forces are being recorded and you will be held accountable».

In a globalized world despite the coronavirus pandemic, the internet and instant information are the great differences with that revolution, which overthrew the dictator Ne Win, in power since 1962, but it was revealed by another Junta of Generals that crushed the Democratic opposition and put its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest. This is how 15 of the next 20 years passed, until she was released in 2010 and began a timid democratic transition that was confirmed in 2015 with the first free elections. After winning the second overwhelming majority in November, the Army has once again risen up against it.

On this occasion, the military knows that if their coup fails, they will be severely punished and will be left without the political and economic power they had retained after the arrival of democracy. In order to correct the Constitution that the Army promulgated to its measure and approved in a “pucherazo” in 2008, the protesters are calling for its abolition and the establishment of a new federal government that signs peace with the numerous ethnic guerrillas that control large regions of Burma, who have once again rebelled against the military.

Less to China, who defined the coup as an “important remodeling of the Government”, General Min Aung Hlaing it has against a good part of the international community, led by the West. The question now is to know how far each other is capable of going.

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