Myanmar protests continue as US sanctions coup leaders

Myanmar protesters back on the streets as US sanctions coup leaders
2 min read
12 February, 2021
The protest movement - currently in its seventh day - has brought hundreds of thousands of people out in nationwide rallies demanding the country's generals relinquish power.

Demonstrations have so far largely been peaceful [Getty]
Huge crowds gathered in cities around Myanmar on Friday in the latest series of protests demanding the return of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, after Washington announced sanctions on the generals behind last week's coup.

The protest movement - currently in its seventh day - has brought hundreds of thousands of people out in nationwide rallies demanding the country's generals relinquish power.

Demonstrations have so far largely been peaceful, but police fired rubber bullets on students while dispersing a sit-down protest in the city of Mawlamyine, arresting at least five and injuring others, according to local activists.

The UN opened an emergency Human Rights Council meeting with a warning that any international response to the coup should avoid harming vulnerable people, after the Biden administration unveiled targeted sanctions against senior regime figures.

With teachers, bureaucrats and air traffic controllers among the government employees walking off the job this week to demand an end to junta rule, the new military leader Min Aung Hlaing told striking workers to return to their offices.

"Those who are away from their duties are requested to return to their duties immediately for the interests of the country," he said in a speech.

Ahead of another day of mass rallies, state media announced the release of more than 23,000 inmates as part of a prison amnesty. 

Friday was a public holiday in Myanmar and mass pardons to empty the country's overcrowded prison system are common on significant local dates. 

More than 260 people have been detained in the days since the coup and about 20 released, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

There was no indication that Suu Kyi or any of her allies were among those set to be freed, and authorities have stepped up a crackdown on striking workers. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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