Myanmar's Army Chief warns anti-coup protesters to return to work | Daily News

Myanmar's Army Chief warns anti-coup protesters to return to work

Musicians take part in a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar on Thursday. - AFP
Musicians take part in a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar on Thursday. - AFP

MYANMAR: Myanmar's ruling Army Chief General Min Aung Hlaing signalled waning patience Thursday with nationwide protests over the military's takeover, ordering demonstrators to return to work or face "effective actions".

His warning comes after a sixth consecutive day of anti-coup rallies condemning the ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and follows US President Joe Biden announcing sanctions against the Generals.

While the demonstrations have largely been peaceful, security forces earlier this week used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets on protesters, with isolated reports of live rounds being fired.

By late Thursday, General Min Aung Hlaing -- who now holds legislative, judicial and executive powers -- called for civil servants to return to work after days of nationwide strikes supporting the protests.

"Due to unscrupulous persons' incitement, some civil service personnel have failed to perform their duties," he said in a statement. "Effective actions will be taken."

Since the February 1 coup, there has been an outpouring of anger and defiance, calling for the release of Suu Kyi and other detained senior figures of her National League for Democracy party. Demonstrators again marched peacefully on Thursday in Naypyidaw -- the capital and military stronghold -- as well as Yangon, the largest city and commercial hub, which saw tens of thousands flood into the streets.

"Don't go to the office," chanted a group of protesters outside Myanmar's central bank in Yangon, part of the effort urging people to boycott work and put pressure on the junta.

"We aren't doing this for a week or a month -- we are determined to do this until the end when (Suu Kyi) and President U Win Myint are released," one protesting bank employee told AFP.

Joining the protest were dozens from the ethnic Karen, Rakhine and Kachin communities -- drawn from Myanmar's roughly 130 ethnic groups, some of whom have faced intense persecution from the army.

"Our ethnic armed groups and ethnic people have to join together to fight against the military dictatorship," Saw Z Net, an ethnic Karen protester, told AFP. - AFP