Myanmar coup: Three weeks of protests turn deadly

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 22 2021 11:22 PM

As Myanmar's military threatens to use deadly force against protesters, here is a recap of events since the junta seized power three weeks ago, arresting the country's democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

- Back to the old days -

The generals stage a coup on February 1, detaining Nobel laureate Suu Kyi and her top political allies in pre-dawn raids.

Its ends Myanmar's decade-long experiment with democracy after close to half a century of military rule. 

The generals claim fraud in November's elections, which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

The putsch draws global condemnation, from the Pope to the new US President Joe Biden.

- Walkie-talkies - 

Two days after the coup, authorities bring an obscure charge against 75-year-old Suu Kyi -- over unregistered walkie-talkies at her home, an offense under Myanmar's import and export law.

- Internet blocked -

Resistance to the coup begins with people banging pots and pans -- a practice traditionally associated with driving out evil spirits. 

The junta tries to block social media platforms including Facebook, which is hugely popular in Myanmar. 

Suu Kyi, not seen in public since the coup, is under house arrest and "in good health", her party says. 

- Bold defiance -

Popular dissent surges over the weekend of February 6 and 7, with tens of thousands of people gathering on the streets calling for the release of Suu Kyi.

Defiance spreads with a third straight day of protests on February 8 and a nationwide strike as hundreds of thousands of people join anti-coup rallies across Myanmar.

- Curfews declared -

The military warns of a crackdown and imposes night-time curfews including in Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw -- the country's three biggest cities. 

But despite bans on gatherings of more than five people, the protests continue.

- Police fire on protesters -

Two people are wounded after police fire on crowds in Naypyidaw on February 9, with one young woman shot in the head.

Despite the violence and a raid on the Yangon party headquarters of the NLD, tens of thousands of people take to the streets of the city for a fifth successive day.

UN special rapporteur Tom Andrews warns that the junta "can't steal the hope and resolve of a determined people."

- US sanctions -

The same day Washington announces sanctions against several military officials, including General Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief now in charge. 

The UN demands the immediate release of Suu Kyi two days later and deems the use of violence against protesters "unacceptable".

- Escalation -

Min Aung Hlaing suspends laws requiring warrants for searches on February 13 as the junta warns the public not to hide protesters.

The next night security forces fire on a protesters and arrest journalists in the country's north, and the junta cuts internet access once more.

- New Suu Kyi charge -

On February 16 Suu Kyi's lawyer says she has been hit her with a second charge, this time under the country's natural disaster management law. 

The next day thousands rally in Yangon vowing to "fight till the end", despite the build-up of troops and fears of escalating violence.

Britain sanctions three Myanmar generals on February 18 for post-coup rights violations, as Canada takes similar measures.

- Four protesters die -

On Friday the protester shot 10 days earlier dies, becoming a symbol of opposition to the junta.

Over the weekend three more demonstrators are killed and around 30 injured as police fire on protests in Mandalay and Yangon. 

- Junta threatens lethal force -

The junta warns Sunday that it is ready to use lethal force, with Myanmar's foreign ministry railing against "flagrant interference" by foreign governments.

But despite the threats, hundreds of thousands of anti-coup protesters rally again on Monday.

UN chief Antonio Guterres condemns the junta's "brutal force" and demands an end to the repression.

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