Thousands of anti-coup protesters marched in Myanmar Sunday, calling for a “spring revolution” with the country in its fourth month under a military regime.
Cities, rural areas, remote mountainous regions and even rebel-controlled border territories have been in uproar since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 1 coup.
The junta has aimed to suppress dissent through a brutal crackdown involving mass arrests and an escalating death toll.
Demonstrations kicked off early in commercial hub Yangon as activists called for a show of force and a “spring revolution”.
Youths gathered on a street corner before marching swiftly down the streets in a flash mob — dispersing soon after to avoid clashing with authorities.
“To bring down the military dictatorship is our cause!” they chanted, waving a three-finger salute of resistance. In eastern Shan state, youths carried a banner that read: “We cannot be ruled at all.”
Local media reported that security forces were chasing protesters down and arresting them. “They are arresting every young person they see,” a source in Yangon told AFP, adding that he was hiding at the time. “Now I am trapped.”
Bomb blasts also went off across different parts of Yangon on Sunday. Explosions have been happening with increasing frequency in the former capital, and authorities have blamed it on “instigators”.
So far, security forces have killed 759 civilians, according to local monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The junta — which has labelled the AAPP an unlawful organisation — says 258 protesters have been killed, along with 17 policemen and seven soldiers.
Violence erupted again on Sunday by10 am in Shan state’s Hsipaw township, when security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least one.
“He was shot in the head and died immediately,” said one protester, who said he rushed to hide his friend’s body in case authorities tried to take it away. “They are asking for his dead body, but we will not give them… We will have his funeral today,” he told AFP.
In northern Kachin state, security forces also fired on protesters, even flinging grenades into the crowd.
A 33-year-old man was shot in the head, a fellow demonstrator told AFP, adding that many others were wounded in the attack. “They all had to be treated at a hidden area. They could not go to the hospital for treatment or they would have been arrested,” the protester said.
Urban centres have become hotspots for unrest, especially in Yangon, where residents share videos of security forces beating up civilians on the streets. Night raids and arrests are also common, with informers reporting to authorities about people suspected to be aiding the anti-coup movement.