The general strike called for this Monday in Burma to protest against the coup d’état of last February 1 has completely paralyzed the country, with only the essential services working and thousands of people joining the protests and the civil disobedience campaign.
Stores have closed for the strike and many of them, such as the largest supermarket chain in the country, City Mart, have announced that they would not open even before the day of the strike against General Min Aung Hlaing.
The Burmese media reported that these were the largest demonstrations since the coup and images of the protests in the two main cities of the country, Mandalay and Rangoon, have been disseminated on social networks.
In the capital, Naipyidó, there have been a dozen arrests, according to the news portal Myanmar Now, although other unverified sources suggest that there could be more than 350 detainees.
“The only people who have stayed at home are the sick or elderly and those who care for them or those who have some inescapable duty in their community,” Myanmar Now has reported.
The strike has been backed by civil servants, industrial workers, health workers, engineers, teachers and bank workers. “Ordinary people across Burma are joining an extraordinary act of defiance against Burma’s brutal military coup following killings, violence and intimidation by security forces,” the group Justice for Burma has highlighted through a message posted on Twitter.
The strike has been called under the slogan of the Five Twos Revolution, 22222, for the chosen date, February 22, 2021, and in reference to the historic protest of the Four Eights, when millions of people took to the streets on August 8, 1988 to challenge the dictatorial government.
The protest has been bolstered by the outrage caused by the shooting deaths of two protesters by police and military in the city of Mandalay on Saturday. Uniformed officers used live fire on demonstrators rallying to defend striking shipyard workers.
On Friday, a 20-year-old woman died after being shot in the head by a policeman during a demonstration the previous week in the capital Naipyidó, the first casualty in the protests. However, the military has vehemently denied any involvement in the young woman’s death and claims that the autopsy has revealed that the bullet that hit her head is not the same as the one used by the security forces.
Moreover, the military dictatorship itself had warned the protesters that they “will suffer loss of life” if the protests continue. Burma’s State Administration Council said Sunday night on state broadcaster MRTV that “the protesters have raised their incitement to riot and lawlessness”.
According to CNN in reference to the military junta’s statement, “the protesters are now inciting people, especially teenagers and emotional youth, to a path of confrontation where they will suffer loss of life.”
This Monday, Facebook has taken down the page of the public television, MRTV, the civil disobedience movement reports, after the social network announced on Sunday the removal of a page run by the Burmese Army, the Tatmadaw, on the grounds that its content could fuel the violence that has been rocking the country since the coup earlier this month.