1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Myanmar: Military supporters attack anti-coup protesters

February 25, 2021

Myanmar's security forces have once again opened fire on anti-coup protesters, while army generals face more international pressure.

Riot police officers stand guard during a rally against the military coup at the University of Yangon, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 25, 2021.
Three protesters have been killed since the anti-coup demonstrations began earlier this monthImage: REUTERS

Supporters of Myanmar's military attacked anti-coup protesters in the country's largest city, Yangon, on Thursday, injuring several as they used slingshots, iron rods and knives.

The violence came after demonstrations entered their third week of protesting the military coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government on February 1. 

Journalist Cape Diamond said on Twitter that journalists at the scene also came under attack. 

How did the violence unfold? 

On Thursday morning, hundreds of junta supporters rallied in the city center before anti-coup protesters gathered. 

They reportedly marched with banners that said "We stand with State Administration Council," the new military's official name. 

Groups of men, some armed with knives, attacked several people. Video footage on social media showed that at least two people were stabbed. 

"Today's events show who the terrorists are. They're afraid of the people's action for democracy," activist Thin Zar Shun Lei Yi told Reuters.

"We'll continue our peaceful protests against dictatorship."

Police crack down on anti-coup protests  

Hours after the violence, police piled on attacking anti-coup demonstrators, who were also protesting the military's appointment of a local official. 

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse protesters as they gathered outside an administrative office. 

Journalist Soe Zeya Tun shared on Twitter footage that showed riot police opening fire on protesters and arresting some. It is unclear if police used rubber bullets or live shots. 

Security forces in Myanmar have cracked down on the largely peaceful protests since they began earlier this month, killing three and detaining at least dozens. 

Military generals are under pressure

Facebook has banned accounts linked to Myanmar's army, including media outlets and affiliated profiles on Instagram, piling pressure on the junta. 

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi discussed the turmoil in Myanmar with her Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai and Myanmar's new foreign minister, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin.

"We asked all parties to exercise restraint and not use violence ... to avoid casualties and bloodshed," Marsudi said in a virtual news conference.

Marsudi's efforts came as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged Myanmar's junta to ease tensions. The 10-country regional bloc believes diplomatic talks with generals to be more effective than sanctions. 

Meanwhile, Britain announced new sanctions on six army generals, including Myanmar's commander-in-chief General Min Aung Hlaing. 

Last week, the US, Canada and the UK introduced restrictions on some of Myanmar's military generals, as anti-coup protesters called for further international action. 

'Milk Tea Alliance' calls for solidarity  

Activists on Twitter have called for protesters in Asian countries to show solidarity with Myanmar's anti-coup demonstrations. 

They are trying to mobilize a pan-Asian protest-solidarity network after the Thai prime minister's meeting with a Myanmar's army envoy on Wednesday. 

"Let's pressure ASEAN leaders to recognize the 2020 Myanmar General Election results," an unofficial Milk Tea Alliance page said on Twitter.  

The Milk Tea Alliance is an online solidarity movement that started as demonstrations in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan protested authoritarian regimes.   

Activists across the network support each other through signing petitions and sharing protest tactics, such as protection against tear gas.  

The online coalition got its name because of the drink's popularity in Asia.  

fb/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)