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Tens of thousands protest military takeover in Myanmar

YANGON

Tens of thousands of people protested in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon on Sunday against the military coup that toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, ending a decade of civilian rule.

Protest participation was the biggest since last Monday’s coup and significantly higher than on Saturday when more than 1,000 people took to the streets. There were no reports of any clashes.

The protesters shouted such slogans as “Don’t allow the dictatorship of the army!” and “Let’s restore democracy!”

When they appealed for the release of Suu Kyi and others detained in the wake of the coup, some car drivers honked their horns in a show of support.

Among the participants were youth holding pictures of Suu Kyi and wearing red, the symbol color of the National League for Democracy that won last November’s general election by a landslide as well as the previous one held in 2015.

The protesters began gathering in the city center around 10 a.m. and their numbers quickly swelled. The police set up barricades in the surrounding area as a precaution.

In an effort to stem dissent, the junta has ordered communications operators and internet service providers to cut access to social media platforms like Facebook.

Last Friday, university teachers and staff joined a civil disobedience campaign by wearing red ribbons to work, following a move initiated by medical doctors and health care staff on Thursday. The campaign was also joined by other staff from some government ministries, according to local reports.

The junta has justified the coup by alleging there was large-scale fraud in last general election, in which the pro-military opposition party was trounced by the NLD, and has pledged to hold a new election following a one-year state of emergency.

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