Myanmar coup: Protests grow despite crackdown

·3-min read
A protester holds up the three finger salute during a demostration against the military coup in Naypyidaw on February 8

Myanmar's military seized power two weeks ago, arresting the country's democratically elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

With much of the country in uproar and protests spreading, here is a recap of events:

- Back to the old days -

The generals stage a coup on February 1, detaining Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi and other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in dawn raids.

In doing so they end Myanmar's decade-long experiment with democracy after close to 50 years of military rule.

The generals justify the coup by claiming fraud in November's elections, which Suu Kyi's party won in a landslide.

The junta proclaims a one-year state of emergency, and promises to hold fresh elections after that, without offering a precise timeframe.

The putsch draws global condemnation, including from the Pope and US President Joe Biden.

- Walkie-talkies -

Two days after the coup, authorities bring an obscure charge against 75-year-old Suu Kyi -- over unregistered walkie-talkies at her home, an offence under Myanmar's import and export law.

- Internet blocked -

Resistance to the coup begins with the nightly clamour of people banging pots and pans -- a practice traditionally associated with driving out evil spirits.

The junta imposes a nationwide internet shutdown on February 6 before lifting the blackout a day later.

Suu Kyi, not seen in public since the coup, is under house arrest and "in good health", her party says.

- Bold defiance -

Popular dissent surges over the first weekend, with tens of thousands of people gathering on the streets calling for Suu Kyi's release.

- Curfews declared -

Workers go on a nationwide strike on February 8.

The military imposes night-time curfews including in the country's three biggest cities Yangon, Mandalay and the administrative capital Naypyidaw.

- Escalation of force -

The next day, two people are wounded after police fire on crowds in Naypyidaw, with one young woman shot in the head. Since then water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas have been deployed in multiple cities.

Despite the violence and a February 9 raid on the Yangon party headquarters of the NLD, tens of thousands of people continue to take to the streets.

- Back to work -

Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing -- who now holds legislative, judicial and executive powers -- on February 11 signals waning patience with protests, calling for civil servants to return to work.

The US announces sanctions on the junta leaders and several gem companies, and warns it will act further if the military uses violence.

- Fugitive protesters -

Opposition to the junta intensifies over the second weekend as spontaneous neighbourhood watch groups mobilise to thwart arrests.

Police warn the public not to harbour fugitives, as they hunt seven people who have lent vocal support to the protests, including some of the country's most famous democracy activists.

- Tanks and troops -

Troops briefly move some armoured vehicles around Yangon on Sunday, raising fears of a further crackdown.

On Monday the country is plunged into its third nationwide internet blackout since the coup and troops appear at key rally spots in Yangon.

UN special rapporteur Tom Andrews warns Myanmar's generals will be "held accountable" for any suppression of a burgeoning civil disobedience campaign.

- Suu Kyi in court -

Suu Kyi's lawyer says the deposed leader is expected to appear in court via video conference this week over charges brought against her by the new military junta.