Yangon: Anti-coup protesters gathered across Myanmar on Monday to respond to the union’s call for a general strike after night raids and arrests over the weekend.
The country has been in turmoil since a February 1 coup ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power and triggered mass protests against the new military junta.
The police and military have taken increasingly brutal measures to suppress the demonstrators. More than 50 people were killed and nearly 1,800 were arrested.
Despite the danger, protesters rallied in parts of Yangon, the commercial capital, Mandalay, the second largest city, and other towns across the country.
Monday’s demonstrations followed an appeal by trade unions for mass walkouts to bring the economy to a standstill.
“To continue economic and business activities as usual… will only benefit the military as they repress the energy of the Myanmar people,” 18 unions said in a statement.
“The time to take action in defence of our democracy is now.”
Unions are seeking to extend the impact of an ongoing “Civil Disobedience Movement” — a campaign urging civil servants to boycott working under military rule — which has already hit state machinery hard.
The impact is felt at all levels of the closed hospitals, vacant ministries’ offices and banks’ inoperable national infrastructure.
The military government warned that if civil servants continue to strike, they will be “fired” on Monday.