The streets of major cities across Myanmar are empty as residents heed a call to observe a “silent strike” Tuesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the military’s overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government.
Activists are urging residents across the country to stay home and for their businesses to shut their doors to protest the coup. Junta leaders have threatened to seize businesses and arrest anyone who shares any information about the strike. The Associated Press says at least 58 people across Myanmar have been arrested since last week after posting on Facebook that their shops and businesses will be closed Tuesday, according to reports from the state-run Myanmar Alinn Daily newspaper.
The military seized power on February 1, 2021, detaining Suu Kyi, the de facto head of the civilian government, and other high-ranking officials, claiming widespread fraud in the general election the previous November, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party won in a landslide over the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.
On Monday, junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing extended the current state of emergency imposed after last year's coup for another six months.
An independent activist group, the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, said at least 1,500 people have been killed in violent protests against the military regime since the February 1, 2021 coup.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement Tuesday that “we are seeing the regime’s human rights abuses and violations escalate, as well as an increasingly severe humanitarian crisis.”
She said the United States has “pursued a variety of actions” with the United Nations to address Myanmar, including pressuring the junta to “reverse course and return to the path of democracy.”
Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. also co-sponsored a U.N. resolution calling for the prevention of arms entering the country, and lobbied to keep Myanmar on the U.N. Security Council’s agenda.
“The U.N. Security Council must demonstrate through concrete action that the world demands a political solution to end their suffering, stop the flow of arms into Burma, release political prisoners and return to a political process,” she said.
Thomas-Greenfield also accused the military government of blocking shipments of COVID-19 vaccine and other humanitarian aid and attacking aid workers during the pandemic.
Suu Kyi has been tried and convicted on numerous charges brought by the junta, including inciting public unrest, breaking COVID-19 restrictions and illegally importing and possessing portable two-way radios. She goes on trial February 14 on new charges of influencing the country’s election commission during the 2020 elections.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse.