| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Opponents of Myanmar coup hold protests on Martyrs’ Day holiday

Myanmarese anti-coup demonstrators staged rallies on Monday, coinciding with a national festival honoring fallen freedom heroes, including the father of the country’s jailed elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Hundreds of people have been slain as the army suppressed street rallies and clashed with newly formed people’s militias since the military seized power on Feb. 1 and detained Suu Kyi and other key members of her party.

Military authorities in Yangon performed a closely controlled Martyrs’ Day ceremony at a tomb dedicated to Suu Kyi’s father, Aung San, a national hero who was slain alongside members of his cabinet on July 19, 1947.

At 10:37 a.m., drivers in Yangon blasted their horns, as is customary to commemorate the assassination of Myanmar’s independence leaders.

Suu Kyi placed a wreath at the same ceremony last year, but only a few relatives were present this year. The military-appointed Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture, Ko Ko, was also present.

In Monywa, west of the city of Mandalay, anti-junta demonstrators held a march where they chanted “Martyrs never die. We are going to wash our feet with the blood of war dogs”, in a reference to soldiers, photographs on social media showed.

Meanwhile, in Meiktila in central Myanmar protesters held a banner in front of the Martyrs’ Day memorial paying tribute to four other “martyrs” who had died in their district during recent demonstrations against the coup.

Security forces have killed at least 914 people since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activists’ group. The junta has disputed the figure and said many soldiers have also been killed.

The military justified its coup by accusing Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party of manipulating the vote to obtain a landslide victory in last November’s election, though the electoral commission at that time rejected its complaints.

Suu Kyi is on trial in the capital Naypyitaw over charges that include illegal importation and possession of walkie-talkie radios and violating coronavirus protocols.

She is also charged in a Yangon court, accused of unspecified breaches of the Official Secrets Act, punishable by a maximum of 14 years in jail, and faces charges in Mandalay.

Her legal team rejects all of the charges.

  • Reuters