Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in cities and towns across Myanmar as businesses also shut their doors, despite the country’s military warning of further “loss of life” if people answered a call for a general strike opposing its February 1 coup.
Monday’s rallies – which local media called the biggest to date since the military takeover – came as the United States warned it would “take firm action” against Myanmar’s generals if they continued to crack down on people calling for the restoration of the country’s elected government, Al-Jazeera reported.
In Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, tens of thousands gathered in the hot sun, chanting “Release all detained leaders” and “Don’t go to the office, break away”, while local shops and international chains – including Yum Brands Inc’s KFC and Delivery Hero’s Food Panda – announced closures.
Protesters also turned out en masse in the capital, Naypyidaw, the second-largest city of Mandalay, and various towns across the country, including in Myitkyina, Hpaan, Pyinmana, Dawei and Bhamo.
The crowds were gathering after supporters of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), a loosely organised group leading the resistance, called for people to unite on Monday’s date for a “Two Five” or a “Spring Revolution”.
On its Twitter account, the CDM said “millions” answered its call, with “sea of people” turning out in every city.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated on Monday that events in Myanmar are concerning, noting that the EU may use sanctions as an ultima ratio.
"We are not prepared to stand by and watch," Maas said ahead of a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels, Sputnik reported.
"We will use all diplomatic channels to push for a de-escalation in Myanmar but at the same time, as a last resort, prepare sanctions on the military regime in Myanmar," he added.
The United States has reiterated its support for the people of Myanmar as mass protests continue three weeks after the military seized power in a coup.
'The United States will continue to take firm action against those who perpetrate violence against the people of Burma as they demand the restoration of their democratically elected government,' US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter on Sunday, referring to Myanmar by its former name. ■