Protesters gathered in Myanmar’s biggest city on Monday despite the ruling junta’s threat to use lethal force against people who join a general strike against the military’s takeover three weeks ago.
More than 1,000 protesters gathered near the U.S. Embassy in Yangon despite barriers blocking the way, but left to avoid a confrontation after 20 military trucks with riot police arrived nearby. Protests continued in other parts of the city, including next to Sule Pagoda, a traditional gathering point.
Factories, workplaces and shops were shuttered across the country Monday in response to the call for a nationwide strike. The closings extended to the capital, Naypyitaw. The junta had warned against a general strike in a public announcement Sunday night on state television broadcaster MRTV.
The junta’s statement also blamed criminals for past protest violence, with the result that “the security force members had to fire back.” Three protesters have been fatally shot.
Trucks cruised the streets of Yangon on Sunday night, blaring similar warnings.
The protest movement, which seeks to restore power to the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and have her and other leaders released from detention, has embraced nonviolence.
The nationwide strike was dubbed Five-Twos, for the five number twos in the numeric form of Monday’s date. Thousands of people gathered in the capital’s wide boulevards, many on motorbikes to allow swift movement in the event of any police action.