Myanmar: Anti-coup protesters remain defiant as military violence continues

Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar maintained their dogged opposition to military rule on Sunday despite a rising death toll, with two more people killed.

The country has been in turmoil since the military overthrew an elected government on February 1, bringing an end to 10 years of tentative democratic reform.

One man was shot dead and several were wounded when police opened fire on a group setting up a barricade in the central town of Monywa.

Later, one person was killed and several were wounded when security forces fired on a crowd in the second city of Mandalay, Myanmar Now reported.

At least 249 people have now been killed since the coup, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

Protesters in some 20 places across the country staged candle-lit, night-time protests over the weekend, from the main city of Yangon to small communities in Kachin State in the north, Hakha town in the west and the southernmost town of Kawthaung, according to a tally of social media posts.

Hundreds of people in the second city of Mandalay, including many medical staff in white coats, marched in a “Dawn protest” before sunrise on Sunday, video posted by the Mizzima news portal showed.

Protesters in some places were joined by Buddhist monks holding candles while some people used candles to make the shape of the three-fingered protest salute.

The junta says the November 8 election won by Suu Kyi’s party was fraudulent, an accusation rejected by the electoral commission. Military leaders have promised a new election but have not set a date.

Western countries have repeatedly condemned the coup and the violence.

But the military, which sees itself as the sole guardian of national unity and ruled for nearly 50 years after a 1962 coup, has shown no sign of even considering back-tracking on its seizure of power.

Coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing visited the Coco islands, one of Myanmar’s most strategically important outposts, 400 km outh of Yangon, on Saturday and reminded members of the armed force there that their main duty was to defend the country against external threats.

The state-run Kyemon newspaper prominently featured a quote from independence hero Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father, who in 1947 said: “It is everyone’s duty to sacrifice their lives and defend and fight back against foreign countries’ insults.”

Suu Kyi, 75, faces accusations of bribery and other crimes that could see her banned from politics and jailed if convicted.