Myanmar’s biggest trade unions has begun a widespread strike in the latest attempt to pressure the country’s generals to step down after seizing power in a coup last month.
At least 18 labour organisations representing industries including construction, agriculture and manufacturing on Monday called on workers “union and non-union alike” to stop work to reverse the February 1 coup and restore Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government to power.
The time to take action in defense of our democracy is now,” the unions said in a statement. “No one can force any Myanmar citizen to work. We are not slaves to the military junta now and we never shall be.” They added that the nationwide stoppage would continue until “we receive our democracy back”.
Witnesses reported the sound of gunfire and stun grenades in different parts of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, during the night.
Soldiers were also deployed to public buildings around the country, sparking confrontations with protesters, the Myanmar Now news agency reported. State media said on Monday that security forces were maintaining a presence at hospitals and universities across the country, as part of their law enforcement efforts.
Some of the biggest protests in recent weeks took place on Sunday, with police firing stun grenades and tear gas to break up demonstrations in Yangon, the northern town of Lashio and a sit-in by tens of thousands of people in the second-biggest city Mandalay. At least 50 people have been killed since the demonstrations began, according to the United Nations.