YANGON: Myanmar saw its largest anti-coup protests yet on Saturday (Feb 6) with young demonstrators spilling onto the streets to denounce the country’s new military regime, despite a nationwide Internet blackout aimed at stifling a growing chorus of popular dissent.
The shutdown did not stop thousands of demonstrators from gathering across Myanmar’s largest city Yangon, beginning on a road near Yangon University where many flashed the three-finger salute that has come to symbolise resistance to the army takeover.
“Down with the military dictatorship!” crowds yelled, many donning red headbands – the colour associated with Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.
A large riot police contingent blocked nearby roads, with two water cannon trucks parked at the scene.
At least two other groups of demonstrators marched south to downtown Yangon’s Sule Pagoda, carrying posters of Aung San Suu Kyi and president Win Myint to call for their release.
Further north in Mandalay, as many as 2,000 people were also protesting, AFP reporters on the ground said.
All were out to condemn dawn raids that brought a sudden halt to the country’s 10-year experiment with democracy on Monday, just as lawmakers elected in national polls last November were due to sit in parliament for the first time.
“They don’t respect our people’s votes and I think they are betraying the country,” one protester told AFP. “Our revolution starts today.”