Hundreds of thousands of Myanmar citizens took to the country’s streets on Wednesday, protesting the February 1 military coup that deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and challenging the trivial charges military authorities have laid against her, the most recent of which (violating COVID-19 restrictions) were disclosed Tuesday. Many were also determined to undercut recent military claims that the takeover was supported by “40 million” people in the country of some 54 million. Turnout seemed not at all dampened by the 8-hour Internet blackout that the military imposed on the country Wednesday morning between 1 AM and 9 AM for the third day in a row.
The largest demonstration took place in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and its financial center, where lawyers, doctors and medical workers joined throngs in the downtown core, displaying signs and chanting in peaceful protest watched by troops and police who for the most part stood by. University students staged a mass march in Myanmar’s second-largest city, Mandalay. Earlier in the day in Yangon, protesters blocked the free movement of police and military vehicles by pretending that their cars had broken down, leaving them with open hoods on key thoroughfares.
JURIST’s law student correspondents in Myanmar described Wednesday as a “good day”, although they did report that in the Myanmar capital, Nay Pyi Taw, young people were trying to paint the slogan “We Want Democracy” on a street just as it had been painted on streets in other Myanmar cities, but police came along and destroyed it with water cannons before it could be completed. They also reported that demonstrators gathered in front of the Mandalay Railway Station calling for the release of railway workers who were detained after they had refused to drive trains at the behest of the military authorities.