Myanmar anti-coup protestors take to the streets again, defy junta’s campaign of fear

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Protesters took to the streets across Myanmar again on Saturday, defying the junta which has increasingly sought to crush the uprising with a campaign of violence and fear.

The country has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power in a February 1 coup, triggering a nationwide uprising as protesters call for a return to democracy.

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So far, more than 230 people have been killed in anti-coup unrest, according to a local monitoring group, as security forces have deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds against anti-coup protesters.

But the movement has pushed ahead - albeit in smaller numbers.

Local media showed protesters in gas masks gathering in northern Shan state, while in the southern coastal city of Dawei, motorists hoisted posters of Suu Kyi and signs that said “end the dictatorship”.

The protesters in Shan state hoisted home-made shields that said “protect unarmed civilians”.

Outside of protests, crackdowns by security forces continue on the streets and residential areas across Myanmar, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

“Casualties and unprovoked shootings are increasing day by day,” it said.

In the central ruby-producing city of Mogok, local media Myanmar Now reported that a small quarter’s night guards were shot overnight.

“One died on the spot last night while two others are in critical condition in the hospital,” a rescue team member confirmed to AFP, declining to give more details.

Commercial hub Yangon has emerged as a hotspot for unrest, as security forces armed with guns continue to root out protesters wielding homemade protection gear. But the resistance movement remains defiant.

“Who says we have to give up because of unequal weapons? We are born for victory,” tweeted prominent activist Ei Thinzar Maung, with the hashtag #SpringRevolution.

Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, said the junta could not defeat a population “united in peaceful opposition” against its rule.

“Desperate, it launches ruthless attacks to provoke a violent response to try and justify even more violence,” he tweeted Saturday.

“It’s not working. The world must respond by cutting their access to money & weapons. Now.”

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