Nationwide ‘silent strike’ in Myanmar protests military rule :: WRAL.com
BANGKOK – Opponents of the military rule in Myanmar staged one of their largest nationally coordinated protests in months on Friday, successfully calling on residents across the country to shut down their businesses and stay at home on the occasion of International Human Rights Day.
The “silent strike” took place in towns and villages from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and came at a time of increasing violence in the political crisis sparked by the army’s seizure of power in February and the ousting of the elected government Aung San Suu Kyi. .
On Tuesday, there was a widely reported massacre in the northwestern Sagaing region of the country in which soldiers were accused of rounding up and killing 11 civilians whose charred bodies were later discovered by d ‘other villagers. The army-installed government has denied that its soldiers were involved, but is organizing an offensive in northwest Myanmar against continued resistance from anti-military militias.
In Yangon, the country’s largest city, and elsewhere, photos on social media showed normally busy streets with no traffic on Friday. The generally crowded markets and squares were quiet hours before the official strike began, reaffirming widespread opposition to the army regime and its disregard for human rights.
Min Han Htet, co-founder and spokesperson for the Yangon Student Union Alliance, said the strike itself might not make a significant difference.
“But by showing their unity, the strike is a success for the people who wage a psychological war against the military dictatorship,” he said.
Solidarity seemed strong among the operators of Yangon’s smaller stores, but at least a few apparently paid the price for their challenge, as photos posted on social media showed props such as tables and chairs confiscated by the security forces to some.
Since Thursday, the authorities had announced in some neighborhoods that measures would be taken against businesses that close without valid reason.
A trader in Muse market in northern Shan state said Friday morning that the township’s official development committee had threatened over loudspeakers that it would take action against the closed stores.
âThey announced in the city that they would close our stores for a month if we went ahead and closed the stores and markets for no reason. But we don’t care. Now is the time to show our unity, âsaid the seller, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the authorities.
Protesters dressed in black clothes, as suggested by the strike organizers, marched in silence in Shwebo in the Sagaing region. People at the home, also dressed in black, posted selfies showing them holding small, hand-made posters.
âWe own our city. Our city, our rules. Staying silent or active is our choice. Never be allowed to reign â, one of them wrote. âTake back our human rights through revolution,â reads another.
People also raised three fingers, the Salvation of the Resistance adopted from the “The Hunger Games” film series.
There was at least one pro-military march in Yangon, according to photos on social media which showed around 100 protesters holding small flags and posters reading “Against terrorism and supporting the military.”