Myanmar diplomatic revolt widens as anti-coup protests return
Myanmar’s coup leaders lost a tug of war over the leadership of its United Nations mission in New York, as well as the Myanmar embassy in Washington, as organised resistance against the coup grew at home on Friday with dozens of townships in the largest city of Yangon forming their own self-governing bodies in defiance of the military.
Anti-coup protesters returned to the streets amid threats of violence, to continue their demand for the generals to step down and restore power to the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
In the country’s second largest city of Mandalay, there were local media reports that one person had been shot and killed.
Earlier, a big crowd marched peacefully through the city chanting: “The stone age is over, we’re not scared because you threaten us.”
In Yangon’s Thaketa Township, protesters were also regrouping on Friday afternoon, after reportedly being hit with stun grenades in the morning, according to The Irrawaddy news website.
Images posted on social media showed hundreds of protesters carrying shields and wearing hard hats, goggles and masks to protect themselves from security forces.
In the city’s Sanchaung Township, demonstrators were also seen setting up barricades and hanging pictures of those killed since the protests began.
There were also reports of power cuts across the country.
On Friday, the civil disobedience movement also announced that at least 34 of the 45 townships in the city had formed so-called “people’s governing bodies” following the direction of those who were elected to parliament but prevented from taking their seats after the generals seized power.
Protesters also took to the streets in smaller numbers in the capital, Naypyidaw, according to Mizzima News.
On Thursday, police broke up rallies with tear gas and gunfire in several cities but their crackdown was more restrained than on the previous day, when the United Nations said 38 people were killed in the bloodiest day of protest so far.
On the diplomatic front, the United States has unveiled new sanctions targeting military conglomerates after the deaths of dozens of civilians protesting against last month’s coup.
The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet also demanded the security forces halt what she called their “vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters”.
Bachelet said more than 1,700 people had been arrested, including 29 journalists.
Singapore has been the most outspoken of Myanmar’s neighbours and its foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, told the city-state’s parliament on Friday that it was a “national shame” for armed forces to use weapons against their people.