YANGON (Dispatches) – Protests against Myanmar’s military government broke out across the nation on Sunday, the anniversary of the bloody suppression of a 1988 uprising against a previous army junta.
The country has been in turmoil since the generals launched their February putsch and subsequent crackdown on dissent that has killed more than 900 people, according to a local monitoring group.
So far, more than 900 people have been killed and about 200,000 have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the recent crackdown.
But protesters remain undeterred, taking to the streets daily in lightning-quick rallies to demand an end to the State Administration Council -- as the junta’s so-called “caretaker” government has dubbed itself.
On Sunday, flash mobs popped up across Yangon and second city Mandalay to mark the 1988 uprising -- a massive movement which the military violently quelled by opening fire on protesters and jailing thousands.
Following the calls of an online campaign, red-clad protesters on Sunday flashed an eight-finger salute and carried banners that read “Let’s return the old blood debt of 1988 in 2021.”
“In 1988, our country sacrificed a lot -- many people lost their lives. But the dictatorship is still alive,” said one protester in Mandalay.
Since the junta seized power, Myanmar’s economy has collapsed, triggering a new exodus of refugees fleeing from economic hardships, worsened by the deadly crackdown and a surge in coronavirus infections.
The coup has also worsened the conflict between the country’s military and ethnic rebel groups, prompting new clashes that have displaced thousands of people.
The military ruler, Min Aung Hlaing, who has promised to hold elections in one year, formed a provisional administration earlier this month and extended the deadline for new elections to almost two years and a half.
The junta leader has been accused of seeking to extend his rule using delaying tactics.