As part of a general strike called to oppose the military coup businesses shut in Myanmar on Monday and thousands of protesters gathered in towns and cities despite a stern warning from the junta that confrontation would cost more lives.
State-owned media MRTV warned protesters against action on Monday.
Local stores, international chains announced closures on Monday, including Yum Brands Inc.’s KFC and delivery service Food Panda, owned by Delivery Hero. Southeast Asian company Grab stopped delivery services too, but left its taxis running.
Protesters were also out in various towns around the country including Myitkyina in the north, Bhamo near the Chinese border and in the central town of Pyinmana, according to media reports.
The response of security forces this time has been less deadly. Aside from the three protesters that have been killed, the army has said one policeman died of injuries in protests.
Authorities were “exercising utmost restraint”, the foreign ministry said in a statement. It rebuked some countries for remarks it described as flagrant interference in Myanmar’s internal affairs.
Several Western countries have condemned the coup and decried the violence against protesters.
“Everyone is joining this,” said San San Maw, 46, at the Hledan junction in the main city of Yangon, which has become a rallying point for the protests. “We need to come out.”
Htet Htet Hlaing, 22, said she was scared and had prayed before joining Monday’s demonstration, but would not be discouraged.
“We don’t want the junta, we want democracy. We want to create our own future,” she said. “My mother didn’t stop me from coming out, she only said ‘take care’.”
In a country where dates are seen as auspicious, protesters noted the significance of the date 22.2.2021, comparing it with demonstrations on Aug. 8, 1988 when a previous generation staged anti-military protests which were bloodily suppressed.