31.01.2023

Tens of thousands of protesters take to streets to demand release of Aung San Suu Kyi

Tens of thousands of people in Myanmar have taken to the streets to protest against the military coup that has forced elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi to remain under house arrest since Monday.

The demonstrations appear to be the biggest in more than a decade, with protesters calling on the military to release Ms Suu Kyi, as well as senior leaders of her National League for Democracy Party (NLD), who have also been forced into house arrest.

Crowds of tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, on Sunday to protest the coup, according to the Associated Press.

Demonstrators reportedly shouted slogans like “Long live Mother Suu” and “Down with military dictatorship,” while videos and images of the protests show many holding up the three-finger salute that has come to represent the fight against the coup. Many protesters have also marched carrying photos of Ms Suu Kyi.

The demonstrations appear to be the country’s biggest since the 2007 Saffron Revolution, which helped lead to democratic reforms.

While Sunday marked the second day of major protests, demonstrators appeared to be buoyed by the return of internet services that had been blocked the day before, prompting fears of a communications blackout.

The military has accused Ms Suu Kyi and her party of refusing to act on its complaints of fraud in November’s election.

The country’s election commission has maintained that it found no evidence to support such claims, however.

The large turnout of protesters suggests a widespread refusal to readily accept a return to military rule, with the military having ruled for more than five decades before the military junta was officially dissolved in 2011.

Ms Suu Kyi rose to power in a landslide election in 2015, but her victory did not put an end to the military’s political influence.

Days before the coup, the military had suggested that it would not attempt such a takeover. However, on Monday, it declared a state of emergency before detaining Ms Suu Kyi and fellow party leaders.

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