Candle-lit vigils were held at night in various parts of Myanmar as death toll in anti-coup protests went past 500 on Monday. And the protesters came on roads on Tuesday morning with renewed vigour and launched a new civil disobedience campaign to hurl garbage onto streets.
According to an advocacy group, forces have killed at least 510 civilians in nearly two months of efforts to stop protests against a February 1 coup.
Of the 14 civilians killed on Monday, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said at least eight were in the South Dagon district of Yangon.
Forces in the area fired a much heavier-calibre weapon than usual on Monday to clear a barricade of sandbags, witnesses said. It was not immediately clear what type of weapon was used.
A South Dagon resident, however, said more gunfire could be heard in the area overnight raising concerns of more casualties.
Meanwhile, in a new tactic, protesters sought to step up a civil disobedience campaign on Tuesday by asking residents to throw garbage onto streets on key road intersections.
“This garbage strike is a strike to oppose the junta,” read a poster on social media. The move comes in defiance of calls issued via loudspeakers in some neighbourhoods of Yangon urging residents to dispose of garbage properly.
ETHNIC MINORITIES: One of the main groups behind the protests, the General Strike Committee of Nationalities, meanwhile, in an open letter called for ethnic minority forces to help the protesters against the “unfair oppression” of the military.
Three groups, in a joint letter on Tuesday, called on the military to stop killing peaceful protesters and resolve political issues.
The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Arakan Army and Ta’ang National Liberation Army warned that they will cooperate with all nationalities if the military did not stop oppression.
Different ethnic groups have battled the central government for decades for greater autonomy. Though many groups have agreed to ceasefires, fighting has flared in recent days between the army and forces in both the east and north.
Heavy clashes erupted on the weekend near the Thai border between the army and fighters from Myanmar’s oldest ethnic minority force, the Karen National Union (KNU).
About 3,000 villagers fled to Thailand when military jets bombed a KNU area after a KNU force overran an army outpost and killed 10 soldiers, an activist group and media said.
Thai authorities, however, denied the influx saying that more than 2,000 refugees had been forced back.
Meanwhile, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Washington was suspending all trade engagement with Myanmar until the return of a democratically elected government.
But foreign criticism and Western sanctions have failed to sway the generals and Suu Kyi remains in detention at an undisclosed location and many other figures in her party are also in custody.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Myanmar’s generals to stop the killings and repression of demonstrations.