There is a nationwide strike in Burma. Military coup and the “revolution of five twos”

Burmese people launched a nationwide general strike on Monday and are taking to the streets in large numbers to protest the military seizure of power.

According to the Irrawaddy website, the strike, which is a protest against the coup in Burma, is likely to be millions of people joining, and it will be the biggest social uprising against the undemocratic power in Burma since the 8888 Uprising, so named since August 8, 1988. At that time, the army dealt bloodily with the previous generation of opponents of the dictatorship.

The Burmese army seized power in the country in early February. The incumbent President U Win Myint and the leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party that won the November parliamentary elections, were arrested. Among those arrested is the peace Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. The army appointed an interim president, claiming the November elections had been rigged.

In mid-February, the military junta introduced an almost complete Internet blockade in Burma after another day of protests against the coup. Twitter and Facebook were blocked, and the largest operator, the state-owned MPT, also prevented Burmese from accessing Messenger and Whatsapp messengers, as well as Instagram, which belong to Facebook.

“The Revolution of Five Twos”

According to the local media, the “five-twos revolution” is to be the biggest social uprising since the 1988 uprising. The Monday strike is so called because of the date on February 22, 2021.

Meanwhile, the military authorities warned the demonstrators that there could be further bloodshed. “Protesters incite people, especially emotional teens and young people, to take a path of confrontation where they will lose their lives,” the state-owned MRTV reported.

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Protests in Burma

On Sunday, hundreds of people attended the funeral of Myi Thwate Thwate Khaing, who died last week after being shot in the head during a demonstration in the nation’s capital, Naypyidaw, on February 9. The 20-year-old has become a symbol of protest against the power of the army.

On Saturday, police re-opened fire on demonstrators in Mandalay, Burma’s second-largest city. Two people were killed.

Despite these brutal actions, the three weeks after taking over the Burmese army failed to stifle mass street protests and civil disobedience campaigns. Demonstrators demand the restoration of the overthrown government of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the release of its leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Junta suppresses protests

Hundreds of policemen were directed to suppress the protests last weekend, say AFP correspondents present. The largest police forces were involved in breaking up a peaceful demonstration near the shipyard. This is where the use of weapons took place.

The media emphasize that during the suppression of the protests that have been taking place since February 1, Burmese police have rather not used live ammunition, but there have been exceptions.

Htet Htet Hlaing, 22, told Reuters she felt fear and prayed before going out onto the street, but decided to join the demonstration. – We don’t want the junta, we want democracy. We want to create our own future ourselves. My mother did not stop me from going out (to the street), she only said: “take care of yourself” – emphasized the young woman.

So far, the military’s response to the protests has not been as brutal as it was in 1988. However, UN Special Rapporteur on Burma, Tom Andrews, expressed “deep concern” at warnings from the military government about the possible “loss of life” by demonstrators.

“Warning to the junta: Unlike in 1988, the actions of the security forces are being recorded and you will be held accountable,” Andrews tweeted on Monday.

Meanwhile, historian Thant Myint U assessed that the possibility of a peaceful solution to the situation is diminishing. “The outcome of the coming weeks will depend on two things: the will of the army, which had previously crushed many protests, and the courage, ability and determination of the protesters (a large part of the population),” he wrote.

The world is looking at Burma

The United States is “deeply concerned” with reports that Burmese security forces have fired on protesters and continue to detain and harass demonstrators, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Saturday.

“We are on the side of the people of Burma,” wrote Price on Twitter. The UK said it would consider further action against those involved in violence against demonstrators, while the French Foreign Office described the violence as “unacceptable”.

“Shooting peaceful demonstrators in Burma is unacceptable,” British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab tweeted. “We will consider further action, with our international partners, against those who crush democracy and the soul of opposition.”

The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand have announced limited sanctions since the coup, with a focus on military leaders.

The head of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Toshimitsu Motegi, announced on Thursday that Tokyo, along with its partners from the so-called Quad groups – the US, India and Australia – are demanding the restoration of democracy in Burma.

Motegi spoke to journalists about Burma, where the military junta toppled the democratically elected government on February 1, following a Quad teleconference; President Joe Biden resumed cooperation in this format with three important democracies in Asia, despite China’s opposition, AFP reports.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that due to the military coup in Burma, Oslo will suspend cooperation with the local authorities and freeze aid funds previously allocated to the public sector, worth EUR 6.5 million. However, the ministry emphasized in the press release that it would not reduce the funds allocated to aid for Burmese, which are distributed by UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.

World Bank president David Malpass also announced on Thursday that his organization would adopt an “extremely cautious” approach to any cooperation with Burmese authorities, and would follow the recommendations of the countries that share the bank in any involvement in any projects related to the country.


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