Myanmar protesters hold ‘rehearsals’ as they prepare for more street clashes with military with activists posing as riot police as they are pelted with bottles
- Dummy clashes in Yangon saw a line of ‘police’ being forced back by protesters
- Activists cheered and applauded after storming their way through riot shields
- The preparations come in response to an increasingly brutal military crackdown
- Police last night went door-to-door raiding apartments and looking for activists
Myanmar protesters held a ‘rehearsal’ for looming street battles with the military today which saw activists posing as riot police being pelted with bottles.
The dummy clashes in Yangon saw a line of ‘police’ being forced back by the barrage of projectiles while others kicked at their shields after a ringleader with a megaphone had given the signal to attack.
Within seconds, the line had been broken and the hard-hat wearing protesters erupted in cheers and applause.
The preparations come in response to an increasingly brutal crackdown which has seen dozens of people killed since the military coup on February 1.
The ‘rehearsal’ on a public street came hours after police sealed off a Yangon neighbourhood and went room-to-room searching for anti-coup protesters.
The raids continued deep into the night and targeted apartments flying the flag of Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party, residents said – with dozens feared arrested in the overnight round-up.
Friendly fire: Myanmar protesters hurl bottles at a line of activists holding makeshift shields and posing as riot police to help their colleagues prepare for street battles
Attack: The dummy clashes in Yangon saw a line of ‘police’ being forced back by the barrage of projectiles while others kicked at their shields
Practise: The hard-hat wearing demonstrators held a run-through in Yangon as they prepare for likely further showdowns with Myanmar’s military junta
Three cheers: The line of ‘police’ was quickly broken and demonstrators erupted in applause
Yangon’s Sanchuang district has seen daily protests since the coup and crowds once again flocked there on Monday to call for Suu Kyi’s release.
By nightfall, security forces had sealed off a block of streets with around 200 protesters still inside, sparking alarm from the UN and Western powers.
Sharp bangs were heard coming from the area, although it was not clear if the sounds were caused by gunfire or stun grenades.
‘They searched every building on Kyun Taw road – they destroyed the locks of apartment buildings if they were locked downstairs,’ said one resident.
By dawn, security forces appeared to have retreated, allowing some protesters to escape from the area, but residents said they had heard of dozens of arrests.
On Tuesday a community leader linked to the ousted democratic government, Zaw Myat Linn, died during an interrogation following his arrest, a watchdog said.
He was the second NLD member to have died in custody in recent days.
And the military crackdown was continuing elsewhere with three protesters killed in demonstrations in northern Myanmar and the Irrawaddy Delta on Monday.
Myanmar security forces wearing helmets and carrying riot shields occupy a Yangon district where 200 people were barricaded in their neighbourhood as night fell on Monday
Police officers in the Sanchaung district where raids were targeting apartments flying the flag of Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party
A police vehicle drives past a building after authorities seized Sanchaung district last night
Police are seen on the streets of Yangon as the search for anti-coup demonstrators takes place on Monday night after protesters once again defied a military curfew
Protesters wearing hard hats, holding signs and standing behind shields take to the streets in Yangon on Tuesday
The Monday night raids came after a day when many shops, factories and banks closed as part of a general strike to protest against the coup.
Makeshift barricades of bamboo, sandbags, tables and barbed wire have been set up by protesters in an effort to slow security forces in the area.
UN chief Antonio Guterres had earlier called for the safe release of all protesters, a call echoed by the UK and US diplomatic missions in Myanmar.
It also came as Myanmar’s ambassador to the UK was recalled, according to state media, after he urged the junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
‘Diplomacy is the only response and answer to the current impasse,’ Kyaw Zwar Minn said on Monday in a statement endorsed by the UK government.
State television MRTV earlier said: ‘The government’s patience has run out and while trying to minimise casualties in stopping riots, most people seek complete stability (and) are calling for more effective measures against riots.’
MRTV also announced a major curb on media coverage on Monday, saying that the licences of five local media outlets had been cancelled.
‘These media companies are no longer allowed to broadcast or write or give information by using any kind of media platform or using any media technology,’ the military said.
Protesters with makeshift shields and masks take their positions in Mandalay on Tuesday
Demonstrators flee away from tear gas during an anti-coup protest in Loikaw on Tuesday
Chaos on the streets of Loikaw today as anti-coup demonstrations continued despite the military crackdown
The offices of Myanmar Now, one of the outlets affected, were raided by the authorities Monday before the measure was announced.
DVB, another of the banned outlets, said it was not surprised by the cancellation and would continue broadcasting on satellite TV and online.
‘We worry for the safety of our reporters and our staff, but in the current uprising, the whole country has become the citizens’ journalists and there is no way for military authorities to shut the information flow,’ executive director Aye Chan Naing said.
The army takeover and arrest of elected leader Suu Kyi has led to protests in which more than 60 have died and 1,800 have been arrested, an advocacy group says.
The police have responded with an increasingly brutal crackdown and parts of Yangon have emerged as flashpoints as protesters continue to defy authorities.
The Monday night raids came after three protesters were shot dead at rallies on a day when many shops, factories and banks closed as part of a general strike.
The military has denied responsibility for loss of life in the protests and defended seizing power by alleging widespread electoral fraud in November’s elections.
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