Protests broke out in major Asian capitals on Monday following the arrest of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and key political allies early Monday morning in a dreaded return to military rule.The Myanmar military declared a state of emergency and will take over the government for a year on claims that elections in November were marred by widespread fraud. The allegations have been dismissed by election observers and the international community.
A crowd of Myanmar activists and sympathizers gathered outside the United Nations University in Tokyo to protest the military takeover.Photos show protesters holding up portraits of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party overwhelmingly won November 2020 elections. Observers speculated that the crushing defeat, a resounding repeat of the NLD triumph at the polls in 2015, could have inspired a humiliated military to act.
Protesters also held up posters showing the photo of Myanmar military chief Min Aung Hlaing with the text “Shame on you, dictator. We never forgive you.”The Japanese government has called on the military to release Suu Kyi and other leaders, including President Win Myint.
Both Myanmar protesters and Thai sympathizers in Bangkok clashed with riot police after they attempted to break up the mostly peaceful protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy.Protesters shouted slogans and stomped on printed photos of Min Aung Hlaing while calling for the international community to act.
“Please tell every people that our Myanmar government is very bad and that always bully our public,” one of the protesters shouted to reporters. “They are very bad. Please help us.”
Police estimated there were 100 Myanmar supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi and 200 Thai activists gathered near the embassy in a crowded business district of Bangkok. The government deployed 150 riot police.
According to Bangkok Post, police made one arrest but an activist group said at least three people were detained following Monday’s protest.Inside Myanmar itself, military vehicles were seen in the capital Naypyitaw, where Suu Kyi and other elected lawmakers were supposed to take their seats on Monday during the convening in parliament.
And in Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon, security forces were seen in various locations including at city hall. There were also multiple reports of journalists being injured at protests in the city.
Bearing Myanmar flags, pro-military supporters took part in rally led by monks in the capital Yangon. They paraded across the mostly empty city after people holed up in their homes in fear.It was not clear if supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi were able to stage a rally, but posts that circulated widely on social media but could not be verified encouraged people to take action.Many people also rushed to supermarkets for panic buying and queues for ATMs were long after banking services were halted. Malls and some restaurants were also closed.