March 7, 2021

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Protests Continue In Myanmar As Military Tightens Grip On Country – NPR

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Protesters hold placards and shout slogans on Saturday in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar declared martial law in parts of the country, including its two largest cities, as protests continued to draw people to the streets after the military staged a coup. Hkun Lat/Getty Images hide caption

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Hkun Lat/Getty Images

Protesters hold placards and shout slogans on Saturday in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar declared martial law in parts of the country, including its two largest cities, as protests continued to draw people to the streets after the military staged a coup.

Hkun Lat/Getty Images

More than a week since protesters began filling the streets of Myanmar to protest a military coup, those demonstrations show no signs of stopping.

Despite a military junta that seized power earlier this month, banning protests and blocking social media sites that fueled them, thousands continue to fill the streets of Myanmar’s largest cities.

Protesters are decrying the arrest of the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The military claims that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party only won November’s general election because of widespread fraud.

In Yangon, the country’s most populous city, masked protesters held signs Saturday condemning dictatorship and urging the release of all detainees. “Free our leader,” one sign read. The United Nations says the military has taken more than 350 people into custody. The vast majority of people detained are being held without charge, according to Human Rights Watch.

Reuters now reports the military has suspended various laws meant to protect the privacy and security of Myanmar’s citizens — essentially claiming the authority to detain people and search private property without the authorization of a court.

The military has already ordered the arrest of several prominent pro-democracy activists, including longtime dissident Min Ko Naing, The Associated Press reports.

Demonstrators have been reporting nighttime raids and arrests. “Sleepless nights are becoming common here in Myanmar,” the BBC’s Nyein Chan Aye said. “Security forces are raiding people’s residences in many places across the country and trying to arrest those who are against the military junta. People are protecting each other, staying up late at night.”

On Thursday, President Biden called for a return to democracy in Myanmar, and said the U.S. would impose sanctions against the military leaders engaged in the coup.

The U.N. has condemned the extensive police and military presence on the streets. “The indiscriminate use of lethal, or less than lethal weapons, against peaceful protesters, is unacceptable,” Nada Al-Nashif, deputy high commissioner for human rights, said Friday. “More violence against Myanmar’s people will only compound the illegitimacy of the coup and the culpability of its leaders.”
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