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Myanmar Police arrests 27 protesters after defying ban

By News Desk, with agency report

No fewer than 27 demonstrators protesting recent military coup in Myanmar have been arrested and detained by the police for contravening ban placed on large gatherings and marching in the country.

As gathered, the protesters defied bans on big gatherings to extend the largest demonstrations in more than a decade on Tuesday, chanting and confronting police who fired water cannons and arrested more than two dozen people.

The Feb. 1 coup and detention of elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has brought four straight days of protests across the Southeast Asian country of 53 million and a growing civil disobedience movement affecting hospitals, schools and government offices.

Myanmar police fired water cannon at peaceful protesters in the country’s capital Naypyitaw for a second day, as the crowd refused to disperse as seen in video clip posted on Facebook by protesters. Video in Bago, northeast of the commercial hub of Yangon also showed police firing water cannon and confronting a large crowd.

Police arrested at least 27 demonstrators in the second-biggest city Mandalay, including a journalist, local media organisations said.

The unrest has revived memories of almost half a century of military rule that lasted until 2015.

“The coup always come into our thoughts, every time we eat, work and even during resting time,” said Yangon resident Khin Min Soe. “We are so disappointed and so sad whenever we think about why this has befallen us again.”

Promises on Monday from junta leader, Min Aung Hlaing, to eventually hold a new election in his first address since seizing power drew scorn. He repeated unproven accusations of fraud in last November’s election, won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in a landslide.

“We will continue to fight,” said a statement from youth activist Maung Saungkha, calling for the release of political prisoners and the “complete collapse of dictatorship”.

Activists are also seeking the abolition of a constitution that gave the army a veto in parliament and for federalism in ethnically-divided Myanmar.

An older generation of activists formed during bloodily suppressed protests in 1988 called for the continuation of the strike action by government workers for another three weeks.

The civil disobedience movement, led by hospital workers, has resulted in a plunge in coronavirus tests, official testing figures showed.

Myanmar has suffered one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Southeast Asia with a total of 31,177 deaths from more than 141,000 cases.

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