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Myanmar: Protesters launch 'silent strike'

December 10, 2021

Instead of taking to the streets, people in Myanmar stayed at home to show their opposition to the military junta's repression. The silent protests follow several violent incidents involving security forces.

Empty streets are seen as locals stage a "silent strike", in Yangon, Myanmar December 10, 2021.
The Myanmar junta seized power in a coup in FebruaryImage: REUTERS

Protesters against the Myanmar military's rule closed shops and markets on Friday in a "silent" show of force against the junta's repression, local media reported.

"We need to send a message to the world about Myanmar's terrible human rights violations," activist Khin Sandar told reporters.

"Silence is the loudest shout. We want our rights back. We want revolution. We express sadness for our fallen heroes," she added.

While streets remained deserted across the country, still others in the northern city of Shwebo wore black clothes and marched in silence. 

Recent escalation in violence

The protests come in the aftermath of several violent incidents, with security forces reportedly burning people alive earlier this week.

A  video on social media purported to show the charred bodies of 11 people, who were rounded up and burned alive in a village, widely circulated on the internet and sparked anger among people this week.

The incident, reportedly in retaliation for an attack on a military convoy, was met with widespread condemnation.

An almost empty road is seen as locals stage a "silent strike" in Mandalay, Myanmar December 10, 2021.
Streets remained empty amid a 'silent strike' Friday morningImage: REUTERS

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned the assault Thursday, saying the US "was outraged by credible and sickening reports that the Burmese military bound 11 villagers — including children — in northwest Burma and burned them alive." 

A top United Nations official said Wednesday he was "deeply concerned" about the report. Human Rights Watch also called for the international community to make sure commanders who ordered the assault were added to the targeted sanctions list and that the community stepped up efforts to cut off funding for the military more generally. 

Myanmar's military-installed government called the reports "fake news" and denied that its troops were involved in the reported massacre.

On December 5, security forces rammed a car into a crowd of people protesting against the military coup in Yangon, killing at least five people. They also arrested at least another fifteen, according to local media.

The military also sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected leader whom the junta forcibly took power over in February, to jail for two years for inciting unrest and breaching pandemic restrictions.

Unrest has risen in the Southeast Asian nation since the coup. A crackdown by security forces has killed 1,300 people so far. Human rights groups put the estimate much higher. 

rm/sms (Reuters, DPA, AP, AFP)

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Khin Sandar's name. We apologize for the error.