Myanmar: Thousands at anti-junta rally call for 'spring revolution'
Since the military deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 1 coup, cities, rural areas, remote mountainous regions, and even Myanmar's rebel-controlled border territories have been in upheaval.
On Saturday, demonstrators organized flash marches for democracy in Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, defying a violent junta that has held power for three bloody months.
The junta has used a violent crackdown to curb opposition, which has resulted in mass arrests and an increasing death toll.
Activists called for a show of force and a "spring revolution" as protests began early in the commercial capital of Yangon.
Youths assembled on a street corner before forming a flash mob and marching quickly down the streets, dispersing quickly to prevent clashes with authorities.
"To get democracy is our course!" they chanted, waving a three-finger salute of resistance.
"To bring down the military dictatorship is our course!"
Hundreds of people marched through central Mandalay, led by monks in saffron robes bearing the flag of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.
In northern Shan state, youths carried a banner that read: "We cannot be ruled at all."
A group of youth shared anti-regime messages in locations across Yangon on Sunday morning. Pro-democracy activists around the country had called for May 2 to serve as the #GlobalSpringRevolutionDay in the anti-dictatorship movement. (Photo: Supplied) pic.twitter.com/WUyoTcJgOr— Myanmar Now (@Myanmar_Now_Eng) May 2, 2021
By 10 a.m., unrest had erupted in the state's Hsipaw township, with security forces killing at least one protester.
"He was shot in the head and died immediately," said one protester, who said he rushed to hide his friend's body in case authorities tried to take it away.
"They are asking for his dead body, but we will not give them... We will have his funeral today," he told AFP.
Security forces were chasing down and arresting demonstrators by midday, according to local media.
"Every young person they see is being arrested," a source in Yangon told AFP, adding that he was currently hiding.
"I'm now entrapped"
In the morning, bomb explosions erupted in various parts of the city.
The blasts have become more frequent in the former capital, and officials have blamed "instigators" for them.
According to the local monitoring community Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, security forces have killed 759 civilians so far.
According to the junta, 258 demonstrators, 17 police officers, and seven soldiers have been killed, along with 17 police officers and seven soldiers.
Meanwhile, the UN warned Friday, half of Myanmar's population could be living in poverty next year, driven by the combination of the pandemic and the political crisis sparked by the military coup, the UN said Friday.
The dire alert came as Myanmar's military and armed ethnic rebels fought again, sending more refugees fleeing across the jungle border with Thailand.
Myanmar, which had already been struck hard by the coronavirus, was thrown into chaos when the military seized power on February 1, deposing Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government.