The leader of the coup in Myanmar has made his first TV address, seeking to justify the action amid mass protests. A protester holds a photo of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup. Photo: AFP Min Aung Hlaing said November's election, won in a landslide by the party of detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, had been unfair. The military has begun to impose restrictions in some areas, including curfews and limits to gatherings. Huge protests were held on Monday for a third straight day, along with a nationwide strike, to oppose the coup. One demonstrating doctor - who did not want to be named - told the BBC: "Today, we, professionals - especially civil servant professionals such as doctors, engineers and teachers - came out to show that we are all together in this. Our objective is the same - to make the dictatorship fall." The general's speech drew angry opposition, with images on social media showing people banging pots and pans in protest in front of television screens. The military seized power last week and declared a year-long state of emergency in Myanmar, also known as Burma, with power handed over to General Min Aung Hlaing. Suu Kyi and senior leaders of her National League for Democracy Party (NLD), including President Win Myint, have been put under house arrest. An Australian economic adviser to Suu Kyi, Sean Turnell, has also been detained and on Monday his family posted a statement on Facebook calling for his immediate release. What did the general say? Min Aung Hlaing's speech focused more on the reasons for the coup and less on threats to protesters. He said the electoral commission had failed to investigate irregularities over voter lists in the November election and had not allowed fair campaigning. The commission had said there was no evidence to support claims of widespread fraud. Min Aung Hlaing, wearing green military uniform, promised new elections and to hand power to the winner. A new "reformed" election commission would oversee it. He also said his rule would be "different" from what was effectively a 49-year military grip on power that ended in 2011 and which saw brutal crackdowns in 1988 and 2007. He spoke of achieving a "true and disciplined democracy", a phrase that drew scorn from some opponents of the coup on social media. Myanmar military chief General Min Aung Hlaing makes an announcement on the nationwide demonstrations being held in protest over the military coup. Photo: AFP He also told citizens to "go with the true facts and not to follow feelings of your own". The general did not issue direct threats to protesters, saying only that no-one was above the law. But some areas have seen clampdowns, with parts of Yangon and second city Mandalay, along with other areas, under a 20:00 to 04:00 curfew and with gatherings limited to groups of five or less. Earlier, a broadcast on state TV warned "action must be taken, according to the law... against offences that disturb, prevent and destroy state stability, public safety and the rule of law". Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said: "For a military coup government that has trampled all over democracy and the rule of law, it's absurd for them to claim they have any right to 'legal action' against peaceful protesters." Who has been on the streets? Tens of thousands gathered on Monday in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, for the strike, with other cities such as Mandalay and Yangon also reporting significant numbers, according to BBC Burmese. The protesters include teachers, lawyers, bank officers and government workers. Online there had been calls asking workers to skip work to protest. "This is a work day, but we aren't going to work even if our salary will be cut," one protester, 28-year-old garment factory worker, Hnin Thazin, told news agency AFP. People holding placards shout slogans of anti-coup as they protest against the military coup. Photo: AFP Another protester, Hnin Hayman Soe, told the BBC she had joined the protest alongside her children, nieces and nephews. "We can see many young people can't accept the military junta. We can even see teenagers here," she said. A few injuries have been reported, but no violence. However, a water cannon was activated in Nay Pyi Taw to disperse crowds. A video appears to show protesters rubbing their eyes and helping one another after being soaked. Kyaw Zeyar Oo, who took the video, told the BBC two vehicles had sprayed protesters with "no prior warning", while "the crowd was peacefully protesting in front of [the police]". The BBC's Nyein Chan Aye, in Yangon, says Buddhist monks, members of the minority Muslim community, top footballers and film and music stars have all been joining the anti-coup protests, which he says are expected to become more organised in the coming days. - BBC
Workers across Myanmar have gone on a nationwide strike, as protests calling for the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and for democracy to be restored continue for a third day.
Thousands have gathered in Yangon and Mandalay, while water cannon was deployed in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.
It comes a day after Myanmar saw its largest protest in more than a decade.
The military seized power in a coup after claiming without evidence that an earlier election was fraudulent.
They also declared a year-long state of emergency in Myanmar, also known as Burma, and power has been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.
Again large demonstrations converging at Sule Pagoda / City Hall today. Many more police in evidence, plus water cannon truck. pic.twitter.com/5mj6ABo0wh
— Richard Horsey (@rshorsey) February 8, 2021
Suu Kyi and senior leaders of her National League for Democracy Party (NLD), including President Win Myint, have been put under house arrest.
‘We aren’t going to work’
By Monday morning, tens of thousands of people had gathered in Nay Pyi Taw, with other cities also reporting significant numbers, according to BBC Burmese.
The protesters include teachers, lawyers, bank officers and government workers. About a thousand teachers have been marching from a township in Yangon towards the Sule Pagoda in the heart of Myanmar’s main city.
Online, there were also calls asking workers to skip work to protest.
“This is a work day, but we aren’t going to work even if our salary will be cut,” one protester, 28-year-old garment factory worker, Hnin Thazin, told news agency AFP.
In Nay Pyi Taw, police used water cannon on protesters and there were reports of a few injuries.
One online video of the incident appears to show protesters rubbing their eyes and helping one another after being soaked.
There were no other immediate reports of violence.
“We all know how terrible it was,” said 40-year-old Maw Maw Aung, who was also among the crowds beside Sule Pagoda, of direct army rule. “We cannot live under the boot of the military. We hate dictatorship. We really hate it.” https://t.co/EOSoNHqpCM
— Thu Thu Aung (@thuttag) February 7, 2021
Other videos showed large crowds holding placards and chanting as they walked through the streets.
Earlier last week, Myanmar’s military seized control following a general election which saw the NLD party win by a landslide.
The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud.
The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims.
The coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open.
The military has replaced ministers and deputies, including in finance, health, the interior and foreign affairs.
It also blocked access to Facebook, which is widely used across the country, Twitter and Instagram.
But that failed to stop large nationwide protests on Saturday and Sunday – which saw the country’s largest protests since the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007, when thousands of the country’s monks rose up against the military regime.