Streets in Myanmar cities and towns flooded with people and vehicles on Monday as a nationwide anti-coup protest was called in the wake of deadly crackdowns that claimed three lives.
After three people were killed during a security force crackdown on demonstrators on Friday and Saturday, a nationwide general strike began on Monday to show defiance of threats from Myanmar's military rule.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Yangon and staged a peaceful rally as armored vehicles and trucks carrying police and soldiers rolled into the streets. Security forces also blocked roads leading to the UN office and embassies in the city.
Shops, markets, and businesses were seen shut down in Yangon to express solidarity with the protesters.
Shortly after the Feb. 1 coup, the junta declared martial law imposing a night-time curfew and a ban on the gathering of five and more people.
However, the junta has failed to quell popular protest demonstrations by the people and a civil disobedience campaign initiated by government officials against military rule.
Aung Moe Zaw, chairperson of the Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS) and a member of the newly formed "General Strike Committee" to organize the protests across the country, claimed that the Monday protest is the largest anti-military movement in the country's history.
"It draws millions of people countrywide. It is even larger than the pro-democracy movement in 1988," he told Anadolu Agency by phone.
The "Two Fives Nationwide General Strike" referring to the digits on Monday date (22/02/2021) was partially to honor those killed during the anti-coup protests, he said.
There was a heavy security deployment at a significant interception to block the road on which the Chinese embassy is located in Yangon. At that intersection, however, the demonstrators gather daily to register their resentment against the military coup.
In Mandalay, where two protesters were shot dead on Saturday, including a 16-year-old child, people gathered at major street junctions to stage a protest sit-in.
A volunteer rescue worker told Anadolu Agency that the situation is festive and not tense at all, despite the killing of two demonstrators. "The protesters do not show any signs of confronting the security forces," he added.
Footages in which a police truck pursued the rally and ransacked demonstrators in the administrative capital, Nay Pyi Taw, were also shared on social media shortly after the scheduled restoration of the country's internet services at 12 p.m. local time (0500GMT).