Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Myanmar on Wednesday, rejecting the army’s assertion that the public supported its overthrow of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and vowing they would not be cowed in their bid to end military rule.
Opponents of the February 1 military coup are deeply sceptical of junta assurances, given at a news conference on Tuesday, that there would be a fair election and it would hand over power, even as police filed an additional charge against Suu Kyi.
The Nobel Peace laureate, detained since the coup, now faces a charge of violating a Natural Disaster Management Law as well as charges of illegally importing six walkie talkie radios. Her next hearing is set for March 1.
“We love democracy and hate the junta,” Sithu Maung, an elected member of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) told tens of thousands of people at the Sule Pagoda, a central protest site in the main city of Yangon.
“We must be the last generation to experience a coup.”
Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, spokesman for the ruling council, told the Tuesday news conference that 40 million of the 53 million population supported the military’s action.
Sithu Maung poked fun at that saying: “We’re showing here that we’re not in that 40 million.”
Suu Kyi’s party swept a November 8 election as widely expected, but the army alleges there was fraud. It said its seizure of power was in line with the constitution and it remained committed to democracy.
A protester who gave her name as Khin was scornful.
“They said there was vote fraud but look at the people here,” said Khin.
The coup that cut short the southeast Asian country’s unsteady transition towards democracy has prompted daily demonstrations since February 6. The takeover has also drawn strong western criticism, with renewed anger from Washington and London over the additional charge for Suu Kyi.