'Silent strike' against junta empties Myanmar streets

Myanmar - afp
An empty street is pictured near Shwedagon Pagoda, as demonstrators called for a "silent strike" in protest against the military coup, in Yangon on December 10, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar anti-coup demonstrators staged a "silent strike" Friday, closing businesses and emptying the streets of cities and towns across the country to protest against military rule.اضافة اعلان

According to a local monitoring group, the Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since the February coup, with the economy in tatters and more than 1,300 people killed by security forces.

AFP correspondents said that the streets of downtown Yangon — Myanmar's commercial hub were deserted, with no street vendors and little traffic. 

The famous Shwedagon pagoda, a Buddhist site usually bustling with visitors and pilgrims, was quiet. 

"Restaurants, shops, and the main market are all closed," a resident of second city Mandalay told AFP on condition of anonymity. 

"There have been no street vendors since this morning, no early morning walkers."

Pictures in local media also showed empty streets in the southeastern city of Mawlamyine and towns across the northern Sagaing region.

The US embassy in Yangon advised its citizens to stay off the streets Friday, citing a heightened risk of violence by security forces against any gatherings or protests.

At 4 pm local time, some Yangon neighborhoods resounded the noise of mass clapping to mark the end of the strike.

Mass demonstrations that rocked Myanmar's cities and towns immediately after Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted in February were met by the military's brutal and indiscriminate crackdown.

Those still taking to the streets to protest now do so in smaller flashmobs lasting just minutes to avoid arrest.  

According to local media, Myanmar soldiers rammed a car into one such rally in Yangon last Sunday, killing five people.

The junta said only three protesters were injured.

On Monday, the junta court jailed Suu Kyi for two years for incitement against the military and flouting COVID-19 restrictions during elections her party won last year. 

She faces many other charges, including violating the official secrets act, corruption, and electoral fraud. She faces decades in prison if convicted on all counts.

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