Almost a week after Myanmar’s military leaders assumed control of the nation’s government and detained its civilian leaders, mass protests are beginning to take shape across the land. Over the weekend tens of thousands of citizens marched in cities and towns, carrying signs demanding the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and flags of the National League for Democracy party. On Monday, the size and scope of the protests grew, and a national strike was called. So far the protests appear to be relatively peaceful with few reports of violence. Outside observers are closely monitoring the situation closely, given that the army has met protests like this with violence in the past. This has not deterred citizens from taking to the streets, however.
The military has been slowly imposing restrictions on gatherings and curfews in select areas of Myanmar, building upon communications and digital restrictions put in place shortly after the coup occurred on 1 February. Internet service was restored 36 hours later, yet the threat of another outage looms.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the coup, addressed the nation over the weekend. He justified the transfer of governmental power by claiming the November election, a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s party was fraudulent. Whether Hlaing’s speech will resonate with Myanmar’s civilian population or not remains to be seen. Given the number of protesters out in the streets in the past 12 hours or so, it would appear unlikely Hlaing’s words have had a positive effect.