Security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas at anti-coup protesters in Myanmar on Tuesday as demonstrators around the country defied a military ban on rallies.
Protests erupted for a fourth straight day against last week’s coup to oust civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as international condemnation of the putsch grew.
The rallies came despite a warning from the junta that it would take action against demonstrations that threatened “stability”, and a new ban on gatherings of more than five people.
In Naypyidaw, the remote capital purpose-built by the previous military regime, witnesses said the police fired rubber bullets at protesters after earlier blasting them with water cannon. “They fired warning shots to the sky two times, then they fired (at protesters) with rubber bullets,” a resident said. He added that he saw some people injured.
It remained unclear how many people were hurt, as a hospital in Naypyidaw would not allow relatives in to see their family members, said Tun Wai, who rushed there when he heard his 23-year-old son was in the operation room.
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“My son was shot when he tried to use the megaphone to ask people to protest peacefully after the police used water cannon to disperse them,” the 56-year-old goldsmith told AFP.
“He got hit in the back… I’m very worried about him.”
In Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, the police fired tear gas to disperse protesters.
Promises and threats
After watching hundreds of thousands of people rally in opposition to last week’s coup, junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing made a televised speech on Monday evening to justify seizing power.
The first of a series of bans on gatherings in protest hotspots was also announced on Monday, as was a night-time curfew.
But on Tuesday, fresh protests initially emerged in various parts of Yangon, including near the headquarters of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). The protesters carried placards some of which read “We want our leader”, in reference to Ms. Suu Kyi — who is currently detained by the military—and “No dictatorship”.
The General insisted the military would abide by its promises and reinstall democracy. “After the tasks of the emergency period are completed, free and fair multi-party general elections will be held according to the Constitution,” he said.
But those pledges were accompanied by threats.
In a statement read on state media, the Army said “action must be taken” against activities that threaten stability and public order.