Myanmar coup: Police use water cannon as thousands strike


Police in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw have used water cannon on workers conducting a nationwide strike against a military coup.

Thousands are taking part in a third day of street protests, calling for the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and for democracy to be restored.

State TV has warned protesters that action will be taken if they threaten public safety or the “rule of law”.

It comes a day after Myanmar saw its largest protest in more than a decade.

Last week the military seized power after claiming without evidence that an earlier election was fraudulent.

They also declared a year-long state of emergency in Myanmar, also known as Burma, and power has been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

Ms Suu Kyi and senior leaders of her National League for Democracy Party (NLD), including President Win Myint, have been put under house arrest.

By Monday morning, tens of thousands of people had gathered in Nay Pyi Taw for the strike, with other cities such as Mandalay and Yangon also reporting significant numbers, according to BBC Burmese. The protesters include teachers, lawyers, bank officers and government workers.

One demonstrating doctor – who did not want to be named – told the BBC: “Today, we, professionals – especially civil servant professionals such as doctors, engineers and teachers – came out to show that we are all together in this. Our objective is the same – to make the dictatorship fall.”

Online there had been calls asking workers to skip work to protest. “This is a work day, but we aren’t going to work even if our salary will be cut,” one protester, 28-year-old garment factory worker, Hnin Thazin, told news agency AFP.

Another protester, Hnin Hayman Soe, told the BBC she had joined the protest alongside her children, nieces and nephews. “We can see many young people can’t accept the military junta. We can even see teenagers here,” she said.

A few injuries have been reported, but no violence.

However, a water cannon was activated in Nay Pyi Taw to disperse crowds. A video appears to show protesters rubbing their eyes and helping one another after being soaked.

Kyaw Zeyar Oo, who took the video, told the BBC that two vehicles had sprayed protesters with “no prior warning”, while “the crowd was peacefully protesting in front of [the police]”.

He added that by Monday afternoon, the situation was “totally calm” as crowds continued to gather, but the water-cannon vehicles were still present.

Over the weekend, the country saw its largest protests since the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007, when thousands of monks rose up against the military regime.

The military has taken control of state media, which broadcast a short warning to protesters on Monday. On the MRTV television station, a newsreader said: “Action must be taken, according to the law … against offences that disturb, prevent and destroy state stability, public safety and the rule of law.”



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