Protesters call for general strike
Myanmar unrest continues amid violent confrontation
Published: Feb 22, 2021 05:18 PM

Security guards are seen at the entrance of the City Hall in Yangon, Myanmar, Feb. 2, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Dongqiang)

Opponents of Myanmar's military upheaval called for a general strike and more street protests on Monday as authorities threatened that confrontation could cost lives after two protesters were shot dead on the weekend.

Despite deploying more forces and promising to hold a new election, the generals have failed to stop more than two weeks of daily protests and a civil disobedience movement calling for the reversal of the February 1 uproar.

Leading youth activist Maung Saungkha urged others to join Monday's protests.

"Those who don't dare to go out, stay home. I will go out in any way I can. I will be expecting Generation Z. Let's meet, partners," he said in a Facebook post overnight.

In a country where dates are seen as auspicious, protesters noted the significance of the date February 22, 2021, comparing it to demonstrations on August 8, 1988, when a previous generation staged anti-military protests which were bloodily suppressed.

The response of security forces this time has been less deadly, but at least three protesters have now been killed after two were shot dead in the second city of Mandalay on Saturday. One policeman died of injuries in protests, the army has said.

The deaths in Mandalay did not discourage protesters on Sunday, when they turned out again in tens of thousands there and in Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon.

State-owned media MRTV warned protesters against action on Monday.

"Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life," it said.

Authorities were "exercising utmost restraint," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It rebuked some foreign countries for remarks it described as flagrant interference in Myanmar's internal affairs.

Several Western countries have condemned the upheaval and decried the violence against protesters. The US, Japan, Singapore, Britain and Germany have also condemned the violence and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said lethal force was unacceptable.

Residents in Yangon said roads to some embassies, including the US embassy, were blocked on Monday. The diplomatic missions have become gathering points for protesters calling for foreign intervention.

The army seized power after alleging fraud in November 8 elections that were swept by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), detaining her and much of the party leadership. The electoral commission dismissed the fraud complaints.

Myanmar's Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said 640 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced since the upheaval.

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