Thousands of people have gathered on the streets of Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and other cities in Myanmar in a national strike protesting against the military coup in the country.
Despite Myanmar's ruling junta's threat of using lethal force against them, protestors have still gathered in the above-mentioned cities to protest against the military rule and the house-arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar (equivalent to Prime Minister).
More than 1,000 protesters gathered near the U.S. Embassy in Yangon despite barriers blocking the way, but left to avoid a confrontation after 20 military trucks with riot police arrived nearby. Protests continued in other parts of the city, including next to Sule Pagoda, a traditional gathering point.
Factories, workplaces and shops were shuttered across the country Monday in response to the call for a nationwide strike. The closings extended to the capital, Naypyitaw.
The junta had warned against a general strike in a public announcement Sunday night on state television broadcaster MRTV.
"It is found that the protesters have raised their incitement towards riot and anarchy mob on the day of 22 February. Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life," the onscreen text said in English, replicating the spoken announcement in Burmese.
The junta's statement also blamed criminals for past protest violence, with the result that "the security force members had to fire back." Three protesters have been fatally shot.
"I am joining the 22222 nationwide protest as a citizen of the country. We must join the protest this time without fail," said 42-year-old Zayar, who owns a bottled water business in the capital. "So I've closed down my factory and joined the demonstration." Zin Mi Mi Aung, a 27-year-old saleswoman, also joined the strike.
"We don't want to be governed by the regime," she said as people marched and chanted behind her. "We will fight against them until we win." Thousands of people gathered in the capital's wide boulevards, many on motorbikes to allow swift movement in the event of any police action.
The protest movement, which seeks to restore power to the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and have her and other leaders released from detention, has embraced nonviolence.
Today's movement is being called the '22222' uprising based on today's date 22/02/22. This is perhaps one of the largest uprisings witnessed in the history on Myanmar.
The military prevented Parliament from convening on Feb. 1, claiming that elections last November won by Suu Kyi's party in a landslide were tainted by fraud. The election commission that affirmed the victory has since been replaced by the junta, which says a new election will be held in a year's time.
The coup was a major setback to Myanmar's transition to democracy after 50 years of army rule that began with a 1962 coup. Suu Kyi came to power after her party won a 2015 election, but the generals retained substantial power under a military-drafted constitution.
Under the junta, 640 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced, with 593, including Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, still in detention, according to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Here are some pictures from the Myanmar protests.
With inputs from PTI.