© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Protesters fled live rounds in Naypyitaw
(Reuters) – Opponents of Myanmar’s military regime, many in small towns across the country, staged candlelit demonstrations on Saturday night and on Sunday to defy the rallies. repression by security forces and killing nearly 250 people since February 1 coup.
The violent crackdowns have attracted condemnation by Western governments and increasingly unprecedented criticism against some of Myanmar’s Asian neighbors.
The violence has also forced those who are determined to resist the return to the military regime after a decade of planning to move toward democracy to devise new ways to express their views.
Nearly 20 protests were held throughout the night across the country, from the main city of Yangon to small communities in the state of Kachin in the north and the town of Kawthaung in the southernmost tip, according to several social media posts.
Hundreds of protesters in Mandalay’s second city, including many medical staff dressed in white coats, marched before sunrise during a “Dawn rally”.
Demonstrators in some places were attended by Buddhist monks holding candles. Some have used candles to form the three-finger pattern of the welcome rally.
In Yangon, which has seen its worst violence since the coup, security forces moved quickly to relieve a gathering.
“Now they are suppressing our night-time protests. Stun grenades are shot continuously,” wrote one Facebook user (NASDAQ :). Eight people have been detained, said one resident of the neighborhood.
A military spokesman did not comment, but previously said security forces only used force when needed.
At least four people had been killed in separate incidents earlier on Saturday, according to the number of deaths since the coup to 247, according to the active group of the Association for Support of Political Prisoners.
Western countries have repeatedly condemned the coups and riots. Asia’s neighbors, who for years avoided criticizing each other, have also begun to speak up.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in some of the strongest comments made by a regional leader, said on Friday the violence should stop immediately. He called for an urgent meeting on the regional clustering of Southeast Asia, of which Myanmar is a member.
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin supports the call saying he is appalled by the continued use of lethal violence against civilians. Singapore has also expressed disagreement.
But the military showed no signs of being swayed and defended its takeover, which deflected the slow transition to democracy in a heavily dominated country from the coup. 1962 until the generals initiated reform a decade ago.
Authorities say the November 8 election won by Ms. Suu Kyi’s party was fraudulent, an allegation denied by the electoral commission. The military leaders promised a new election but didn’t set a date.
coup leader Min Aung Hlaing on Saturday visited the Coco Islands, about 400 km (250 miles) south of the capital Yangon, and explained to military officers and nurses why he came to power State television stations reported.
The islands are located close to some of the most important shipping routes in the world, in waters where China and India seek to show their might. Neither Asian giants spoke up strongly against the coup and the violence.
Ms. Suu Kyi, 75, faces bribery and other charges that could result in her political ban and imprisonment if convicted. Her lawyer said the charges were covered.