Tens of thousands of Mynmar citizens stormed the streets across the country people on Sunday in protest to denounce last week’s coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained by the military junta alongside other government officials.
As gathered, the widespread protest was the biggest recoreded in the country after the 2007 Saffron Revolution that helped lead to democratic reforms.
Crowds of demonstrators in the biggest city, Yangon, sported red shirts, red flags and red balloons, the colour of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party (NLD) in a widespread protest that entered its second day on Sunday.
The demonstrations, it was learnt, forced the junta on Sunday to end a day-long blockade of the internet that had further inflamed anger since the coup last Monday that has halted the Southeast Asian nation’s troubled transition to democracy and drawn international outrage.
Massive crowds from all corners of Yangon gathered in townships and headed toward the Sule Pagoda at the heart of the city, also a rallying point during the Buddhist monk-led 2007 protests and others in 1988.
They gestured with the three-finger salute that has become a symbol of protest against the coup. Drivers honked their horns and passengers held up photos of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi.
“We don’t want military dictatorship! We want democracy!” they protesters armed with banners with different inscriptions chanted.
“We don’t want a dictatorship for the next generation,” said 21-year-old Thaw Zin. “We will not finish this revolution until we make history. We will fight to the end.”
There was no comment from the junta in the capital Naypyitaw, more than 350 km (220 miles) north of Yangon.
An internal note for U.N. staff estimated that 1,000 people joined a protest in Naypyidaw while there were 60,000 in Yangon alone. Protests also were reported in the second city of Mandalay and many towns across the country of 53 million people.
The demonstrations have largely been peaceful, unlike the bloody crackdowns seen in 1998 and 2007.
But shots were heard in the southeastern town of Myawaddy as uniformed police with guns charged a group of a couple of hundred protesters, live video showed. There was no immediate report of casualties.