Large crowds of pro-Democracy protesters surrounded the U.S. embassy in Myanmar’s capital Yangon on Monday, calling for President Joe Biden to intervene to stop the Myanmar’s military coup and free the country’s detained leader.
Livestreams shared on Burmese media showed people gathering in different parts of Yangon, including the U.S. embassy, as the internet blackout imposed the previous evening appeared to lift.
On Monday, more than a dozen police trucks with four water cannons were deployed near Sule Pagoda in Yangon, where many of pro-democracy protests have been taking place.
The footage shows people, many of them young, holding placards with slogans such as “we don’t want dictatorship”, “We need the U.S. army”, and others calling for the release of deposed State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi, who was seized by the military in a coup on February 1.
That day, the spokesman for the country’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy, Myo Nyunt said that Suu Kyi and other senior NDL party leaders had been “taken” in an early morning raid by the military.
The Myanmar military overthrew the government and declared a year-long state of emergency, citing a failure to act on unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the recent election. The coup began shortly after Suu Kyi won the election by a landslide.
The military in Myanmar demanded a recount of election votes but the country’s election commission reported no evidence to support claims of voter fraud.
After the coup, phone lines to the capital went down and several TV networks were unable to broadcast due to “technical issues”.
President Joe Biden announced sanctions on Myanmar on February 11, which included redirecting over $42.4 million in U.S. aid away from the country’s government.
To allay fears that aid would be withdrawn from the most vulnerable people in Myanmar, also known as Burma, the White House also said USAID will support the country’s residents “with approximately $69 million in bilateral programs that provide direct benefits to sustain and improve the health of the people of Burma, including efforts to maintain democratic space, foster food security, support independent media, and promote peace and reconciliation in conflict-affected regions.”
The U.S. also imposed the first new sanctions on military chief Min Aung Hlaing and other senior generals. 10 individuals and three entities were designated for their connection with the military takeover and immediate action to limit exports of goods to the military in Myanmar.
The United Nations and a string of western nations have condemned the coup.
Late on Sunday, United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” about the situation in the country.
His response came shortly after shots were fired in the northern state of Kachin and the deployment of tanks to various cities in Myanmar.
“The Secretary-General reiterates his call on Member States collectively and bilaterally to exercise influence regarding the protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar, ” he said in the statement.
Soldiers were deployed to power plants in Kachin that day, leading to a confrontation with activists, some of whom said they believed the army intended to cut off the electricity.
Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com/myanmar-protesters-surround-u-s-embassy-yangon-1569294 on .