Thousands of people in Myanmar took to the streets over the weekend, decrying the military coup that we reported last week when Myanmar’s military detained the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and declared a state of emergency.
This past weekend, the protests escalated with tens of thousands more participating in protest marches. As tensions escalated, shots reportedly were fired, and water cannons were used by police to stop the rallies.
The mass protests – the largest Myanmar has seen since the 2007 crisis – have so far been largely peaceful, but the country remains in a volatile state since the coup began on Monday.
The protesters are demanding the release of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and others arrested by the military and for the civilian government to be back in power. The generals have declared a year-long state of emergency and ousted Myanmar’s leadership, accusing Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party (NLD) of rigging last November’s general election.
Over the weekend, rallies have been staged in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and other places in support of Suu Kyi. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is loved by many in her country, despite her reputation being tarnished in recent years, with many accusing her of turning a blind eye to the genocide of Rohingya Muslims during her time in power.
People were carrying red balloons symbolizing the state counselor’s party, waving NLD flags, and giving three-finger salutes to denounce the military. The marches caused traffic problems as crowds clogged the streets for hours.
In addition to going on marches, the protesters were trying to make themselves heard by banging pots and pans during evening hours. The traditional ritual is usually used to ward off evil, but it has been repurposed for a political cause.
The ruling military has reportedly cracked down on social media, curbing the opposition’s ability to organize.
Facebook confirmed on Thursday that telecom providers in Myanmar were told to temporarily block it, while monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory reported “a near-total internet shutdown” in the country on Saturday.
It remains unclear how many people were arrested along with Suu Kyi. A local activist group claims over 130 people may have been taken into custody. Sean Turnell, an Australian economic advisor to the ousted counselor, is the only foreign citizen reported to be among those detained. He messaged Reuters about his imminent arrest on Saturday before contact with him was lost.
The coup was condemned by a number of countries and the U.N., while the U.S. threatened the country’s military leadership with sanctions.
Protesters in Yangon rallied again yesterday, raising three-finger salutes that are symbols of resistance and carrying placards saying, “Reject the military coup” and “Justice for Myanmar.”
In response, Myanmar’s military cracked down on the protesters, issuing decrees that banned peaceful public demonstrations in the country’s two most-populated cities and imposed an 8 PM to 4 AM curfew in Yangon and Mandalay, where the largest demonstrations were held.
TREND FORECAST: The military will quash the protests, and U.S. and ally sanctions will have a minor impact on a nation that has strong economic and geopolitical bonds with neighboring China.

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