Security forces in Myanmar have arrested dozens of people in a pre-emptive move to suppress plans for a nationwide strike on the one-year anniversary of the army’s seizure of power, state-run media reported.
Opponents of military rule in the country have called for a “Silent Strike” aimed at emptying the streets of Myanmar’s cities and towns by having people stay home and businesses shut their doors from 10am to 4pm.
One of the planned follow-up protests then wants supporters to make noise by banging pots and pans or honking horns.
The military’s takeover on February 1, 2021 ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party was about to begin a second five-year term in office after winning a landslide victory in the previous year’s election.
1 Feb marks one year since a military coup in #Myanmar. The military has killed, arrested and tortured civilians, forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and more. These abuses must stop. #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar ✊ pic.twitter.com/7ASaL7r2IS— Amnesty International (@amnesty) January 31, 2022
At least 58 people have been arrested since last week after posting notices on Facebook that their shops and businesses would be closed on Tuesday, according to reports in the state-run Myanma Alinn Daily newspaper.
The detainees from the cities of Yangon, Mandalay and Myawaddy include shopkeepers, restaurant owners, a doctor, a make-up artist, a mobile phone repair shop owner and an astrologer, Myanma Alinn Daily reported.
Their arrests followed official warnings that people participating in the strike could be arrested and put on trial, including for offences under the Counter-Terrorism Law that carry maximum penalties of life imprisonment and the possible confiscation of their property.
The crackdown was confirmed by friends and family of some of the targets, including the SIP Cafe Club coffeeshop in Mandalay.
The (Facebook) page announced it would be closed on February 1 by using the words ‘Silent Strike,’ and the cafe was confiscatedAnonymous worker
“The (Facebook) page announced it would be closed on February 1 by using the words ‘Silent Strike,’ and the cafe was confiscated,” one of its workers told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisal from the authorities.
Widespread nonviolent demonstrations followed the army’s takeover initially, but armed resistance began after protests were put down with lethal force. About 1,500 civilians have died but the government has been unable to suppress the insurgency.