Myanmar Protesters Begin National Strike, Vow to Defeat Army
Demonstrators hold up illuminated mobile phone during a protest outside the United Nations Building in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photographer: Andre Malerba/Bloomberg)

Myanmar Protesters Begin National Strike, Vow to Defeat Army

Myanmar protesters marched Monday in some of the country’s biggest cities, part of another nationwide strike to pressure the military to relinquish power after a Feb. 1 coup.

Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets in Yangon and Mandalay, Myanmar’s biggest cities, as well as other cities to keep up momentum for the pro-democracy movement. In the southeastern city of Dawei, the Karen National Union -- Myanmar’s longest standing ethnic armed group -- stood guard protecting protesters.

At least three deaths were reported by witnesses and local media outlets across the Southeast Asian nation Monday taking the death toll in the harsh crackdown on protesters to at least 64 since the coup. Two protesters died of bullet wounds in Myitkyina city in Kachin State and a 30-years old man was shot dead in Pyapon of Ayeyarwady Region, news reports said. Police also cracked down on protests in Yangon and Mandalay.

Eighteen labor organizations working in Myanmar jointly called for a nationwide work stoppage Monday in a bid to restore democracy after the military failed to recognize the November election win by detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. They called for all citizens to join the civil disobedience movement.

“We are not content simply to create martyrs in the struggle for Myanmar democracy,” they said in a joint statement. “We must win this struggle, and the extended nationwide work stoppage is the path to the people’s victory.”

Myanmar’s generals have come under more international pressure, with the United Nations envoy urging more action to halt the violent crackdown on protesters. While the U.S. and U.K. have put sanctions on the generals, most other countries have resisted taking concrete measures even as they’ve pushed for a peaceful solution.

The Myanmar Police Force released a statement late Sunday saying those who have instigated anti-state activities will be prosecuted in accordance with the law. Security forces will search and detain protesters for national security reasons, the statement said.

The junta also warned on state-broadcaster MRTV that those who cause physical harm to security forces and persuade people to join the civil disobedience movement could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison in accordance with the existing laws.

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