Canada In Myanmar, the generals are used to getting their way. Did they miscalculate this time?
Myanmar: New allegations against Aung San Suu Kyi after military coup.
The disempowered Prime Minister of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, faces prison sentence. The federal government has condemned the military's actions against demonstrators "in the strongest possible way." © Uncredited / dpa One month after the military coup in Myanmar , the judiciary has raised new allegations against the disempowered head of government Aung San Suu Kyi . This became known after an interrogation to which the 75-year-old was connected to video from house arrest on Monday.
On the streets of Yangon, the mood captured by news cameras seems friendly, even festive. Young people with brightly painted faces and determined looks fill parks and intersections day after day. Their signs ask "Where is democracy?"
Not here. For all the upbeat music and colourful costumes, worry weighs heavily on a Myanmar whose uneven march toward real people power has been blocked by a military with other plans. For all the talk of a peaceful transition to democracy, tanks block roads and soldiers shoot protestors.after being hit with a real bullet.
Protests in Myanmar: Police shoot at least five people
During the protests against the military junta in Myanmar, the regime again killed people and injured many on Sunday. Media reports spoke of at least five dead and hundreds injured on the second day of the violent clashes. "Myanmar is like a battlefield," tweeted the Archbishop of Rangoon, Cardinal Charles Bo, on Sunday. © AP A young man mourns at the memorial of a dead person.
The country's, now three weeks old, is settling into a tense standoff with the generals on one side and a wide swath of Myanmar's civilian population on the other, vowing not to give up until they achieve full democracy.
Coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing took charge after sweeping aside the results of an election last year which saw Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party. Suu Kyi is now being held, charged with to justify her detention.
Hlaing has promised a new multiparty vote next February, and to "hand over power to the one who wins in that election, according to the rules of democracy."
For the teens and twenty-somethings on the streets, the shock is real — perhaps greater than the generals have bargained for.
Burma: tremble generals, the spirits of the beyond are angry!
© Provided by Le Point E n Burma , the spirits of the beyond disapprove of the action of the soldiers who seized power during the coup d'état on February 1st. This is the message that mediums, wizards and other Burmese diviners want to convey, who have joined in large numbers the anti-junta processions in the streets of Rangoon, wearing a traditional mask or a golden crown.
The youth grew up with very different expectations.
"We are young, we have a future," said Nyi Nyi Nyang, a 24 year-old playing electric guitar to the protest lyrics. "But this dictatorship can destroy all our dreams."
He is a digital marketer, a job that didn't even exist here until a decade ago, he told a freelance CBC News crew. That's when a previous military dictatorship's barriers to the outside world started crumbling and the internet flooded in. It spread from one per cent to over 43 per cent penetration, bringing mobile phones, social media and a new vision of western freedoms — not to mention new ways of organizing opposition being used in places like Hong Kong and Bangkok.
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Young people have embraced all that.
"We want peaceful change," said a protestor who goes by the initial M, and reached by CBC by telephone. "We don't have guns. Our hands are empty, only the mobile phones."
But they are not the only ones who protest the military's actions in increasing numbers. A widespread civil disobedience movement — popularly known as CDM — has brought the country's government and the generals' cash flow to a near standstill.
Doctors and nurses were the first to stop obeying official orders, immediately after the coup. They were joined by many civil servants, bank employees and rail workers who went on strike. Every day, cars block key intersections, their hoods up under the pretence of mechanical trouble.
Burma: the police shoot at anti-junta demonstrators, two dead and thirty wounded
© Copyright 2021, L'Obs Two demonstrators were killed and thirty wounded on Saturday, February 20 in Mandalay, in the center of the Burma, by fire from the police during an anti-junta rally, the most severe violence since the coup of February 1 . Several hundred police officers were deployed in the afternoon to a shipyard in the country's second city, raising fears of arrests of workers mobilized against the coup.
People have also started boycotting corporations owned by the generals: from Myanmar Beer to Red Ruby cigarettes, from banks to bowling alleys. For them, losing power could also mean losing this lucrative stream of extra income.
In response to the protests, the army has given itself broad new powers of search and arrest, and has made penal code amendments aimed at stifling dissent with tough prison terms. It has arrested more than 500 people, including Suu Kyi and other leaders of the NLD. And it has launched a nightly curfew, regular internet outages, and raids across the country,.
The impasse is real and it is unpredictable, says Thant Myint-U, a historian and author of The Hidden History of Burma. He's worked with the United Nations and as a special advisor to the president of Myanmar. His grandfather was former UN Secretary General U Thant.
"We're in uncharted territory," he said in an interview with CBC News from Bangkok. "If the military begins to buckle as a result of these protests, then it's hard to see exactly where things might go."
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been in similar situations before. Under previous generals, it was a military dictatorship for half a century before 2010, a starkly unequal society divided along lines of race, poverty and power.
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When people demanded more democracy in 1988 — holding nationwide protests and work stoppages, enlisting the support of civil servants and indeed the police — the army responded with deadly force. Hundreds of civilians were killed before the military regained control.
Since then, the generals have been careful to cede power only under their terms.
in the shadows, even as Suu Kyi stood in the world spotlight, leading Myanmar toward democracy.
"That didn't happen because of protests. That didn't happen because of a grassroots revolution. That didn't happen because of [international] sanctions," said Myint-U.
"It happened because the generals were confident. They themselves wanted to move along a certain path toward giving up a little bit of power."
But Myint-U says this is a different era, and with this month's coup they may have miscalculated.
"I don't think they counted on the kind of really visceral anti-military feeling that they've unleashed over these past couple of weeks," he said.
"They thought they could do this in a fairly easy way, that they would take over. They would put Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. They would probably deregister [her political party] the NLD. They would have new elections. And then the parties that were friendly to them would somehow win the elections."
Protests in Burma: Mya, 20, was shot by an officer
While protesting in the street against the coup by the military junta, the young grocer was shot in the head. She just died in hospital after ten days in a coma. © / AP / SIPA Protests in Burma: Mya, 20, shot by an officer She is the first victim of military repression in Burma. Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, 20, died on Friday from her injury after being shot in the head during a protest against the putsch.
But despite the opposition — and the social and generational changes — sweeping Myanmar, Myint-U doesn't anticipate splits in the close-knit military which could lead to a street-level victory for the protestors.
"This is not an army that's ever broken ranks," he said. And for all the influence of the internet and other ways Myanmar has opened up, "almost everything has been done to keep the army itself relatively isolated from the rest of the world."
So far, the generals have been undeterred by sanctions imposed on them Thursday byfor army "repression" and human rights abuses or by similar sanctions imposed by the United States. General Hlaing seems indifferent to demands from the U.S., India, Japan and Australia, that he "swiftly restore the democratic system" or to calls by the UN to avoid using force on civilians.
Still, the protestors persist.
Twenty-four year old Phyo Thandar Kyaw says they are afraid, just like earlier generations fighting for democracy in Myanmar.
"My mom told me about what happened in the 1988 uprisings and how they were scared," she says. "Now I feel like it's happening again."
But as fellow protestor Yan Naung Soe adds, this time "we have more educated young generations and more solutions." More ways, they insist, to defeat the old generals.
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