Myanmar: Anti-coup protests continue amid internet shutdown and military violence

Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar held a candle-lit protests overnight and scrambled to find ways to get around a deepening internet shutdown on Friday, pledging to continue efforts to force out the generals despite a military crackdown that has killed hundreds, including dozens of children.

Anti-coup groups shared radio frequencies, offline internet resources and providers of text message news alerts to try to circumvent new curbs on the internet, which is now limited to fixed-line services.

The military did not announce or explain its order to telecom firms to cut wireless broadband, which adds to a ban on mobile data through which a nationwide movement has mobilised on social media and spread images of the military’s lethal suppression of mostly youth-led protests against its rule.

Overnight, there were more reports of protesters being fired at in the city of Monywa in Sagaing region, with one death reported.

The Irrawaddy news website also reported that four villagers were shot and four others arrested by security forces during a protest in Sagaing region on Friday. The crackdown did not stop hundreds of protesters from marching in Sagaing’s Katha township.

Protesters have been spreading a call for a “flower strike” at the bus stops where security forces had killed demonstrators.

“We will leave flowers at bus stops tomorrow … That’s what I want to tell you guys before the internet is down,” Khin Sadar, a protest leader, posted on Facebook.

“Do as many guerrilla strikes as you can. Please join.”

The former British colony has been in chaos for two months following the military’s February 1 overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected administration, which has sparked anger across towns and cities and reignited hostilities between the armed forces and ethnic minority groups in several different regions.

Some 543 people have been killed in the uprising, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group, which is tracking casualties and detentions.

The military has repeatedly said those killed had instigated the violence. But according to a report on Monday from the aid group, Save The Children, at least 42 children, who were not involved in the protests, were also killed.