Despite military junta’s assurances that there would be a fair election given, opponents of Myanmar’s military coup gathered on Wednesday for what they hope will be a major show of opposition to the army’s assertion of public support for overthrowing elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Protesters say thet are deeply sceptical of the junta’s assurances which was given at a news conference on Tuesday.
“What they said was totally untrue. I don’t acknowledge them at all,” a protester who gave her name as Khin said of the military’s news conference, when it again defended the coup saying a Nov. 8 election, swept by Suu Kyi’s party, was fraudulent.
“They said there was vote fraud but look at the people here now,” said Khin who was among thousands gathering at the Sule Pagoda, a central protest site in the main city of Yangon.
In Yangon and elsewhere, motorists responded to a “broken-down car campaign” spreading on social media, stopping their supposedly stalled cars, with bonnets raised, on streets and bridges to block them to police and military trucks.
“We want the truth,” said Ko Ye, 26, whose taxi was part of the break-down protest at the Sule Pagoda.
“The truth is democracy and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint”.
The president was also detained on the day of the coup.
Aung San Suu Kyi was detained since the Feb1 coup. She now faces a charge of violating a Natural Disaster Management Law as well as charges of illegally importing six walkie talkie radios. At a hearing by video conference on Tuesday, her next hearing was set for March 1.
The coup that cut short the Southeast Asian country’s unsteady transition towards democracy has prompted daily demonstrations since Feb. 6, some drawing hundreds of thousands of people.
The United States was “disturbed” by reports of the additional criminal charge against Suu Kyi, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. Washington imposed new sanctions last week on the Myanmar military. No additional measures were announced on Tuesday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also decried the new criminal charge, saying it was “fabricated” by the military.
Although China has taken a softer line, its ambassador in Myanmar on Tuesday dismissed accusations it supported the coup.
UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said he feared the possibility of violence against the protesters and made an urgent call on any country with influence over the generals, and businesses, to press them to avoid it.
“Continued repression of the people of Myanmar’s basic liberties and human rights must end immediately,” Andrews said in a statement.