Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protesters hold posters during a demonstration against the military coup in Myanmar near the royal palace in Mandalay on February 7, 2021. (Photo: str/AFP via Getty Images)

Protesters hold posters during a demonstration against the military coup in Myanmar near the royal palace in Mandalay on February 7, 2021. (Photo: str/AFP via Getty Images)

'We Want Democracy!': Despite Internet Blackout, Tens of Thousands Protest Military Coup in Myanmar

"The Myanmar military has engaged in a naked power grab that if not reversed will set back democracy and the protection of human rights for a generation," warned one human rights advocate.

Jessica Corbett

Tens of thousands of people on Sunday took to the streets of Yangon and across Myanmar for a second straight day to protest a military coup that has drawn international condemnation and demand the immediate release of elected leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials from the National League for Democracy party who have been detained since Monday.

Sunday saw "the biggest protests since the 2007 Saffron Revolution that helped lead to democratic reforms," Reuters reports. Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by military juntas from 1962 until 2011. Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and spent years under house arrest, came to power after her party's landslide victory in the 2015 election.

While Suu Kyi has faced intense global criticism for her complicity in the military's genocidal assault on the Asian nation's Rohingya Muslim minority, the thousands in the streets this weekend—many with shirts, flags, and balloons in red, the color of the NLD—made clear that they oppose her detention and want to governed by elected officials not the military.

The military—which said that it carried out the coup in response to unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, which the NLD also won by a landslide—restored internet services on Sunday after ordering a blackout on Saturday, a move that followed reported internet and phone outages earlier in the week.

Amnesty International's deputy regional director for campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said in a statement Saturday that "to shut down the internet amid a volatile coup, a humanitarian crisis, and a health pandemic is a heinous and reckless decision," and called on the military to "re-establish all telecommunications immediately and stop putting people's rights in danger."

Limited access to social media and the internet didn't deter protesters throughout the weekend, who marched through the streets chanting, "Long live Mother Suu," "Down with military dictatorship," and "We don't want military dictatorship! We want democracy!"

Some, according to Reuters, carried posters that read: "You fucked with the wrong generation."

Thaw Zin, a 21-year-old who joined a massive crowd Yangon on Sunday, told Reuters that "we don't want a dictatorship for the next generation or for us."

"If we don't stand this time for our country, our people, there is no one," Thaw Zin said. "Evil will fall on us. We will never forgive them for the trouble they have brought to us."

Although many of the protesters were younger adults, the demonstrations drew participation from various age groups.

"We just want to show this current generation how the older generation fights this crisis, by heeding the guideline of Mother Suu, which is to be honest, transparent, and peaceful," 46-year-old Htain Linn Aung told the Associated Press. "We don't want a military dictator. Let the dictator fail."

The AP noted that "the elected lawmakers of Suu Kyi's party met in an online meeting Friday to declare themselves as the sole legitimate representatives of the people and asked for international recognition as the country's government."

Human rights advocates and politicians around the world as well as United Nations leaders and the U.N. Security Council have expressed alarm over the military takeover.

In response to journalists in Myanmar reporting harassment and threats of arrest, Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, declared in a statement Friday that "a news and information blackout by the coup leaders can't hide their politically motivated arrests and other abuses."

"The military should immediately release those arrested, restore access to online information, and protect the right to free expression," Adams said, adding that "the Myanmar military has engaged in a naked power grab that if not reversed will set back democracy and the protection of human rights for a generation."

"The coup was so appalling that even China, which has consistently protected military from condemnation at the Security Council, signed onto a call for the respect of fundamental freedoms," said Adams. "Governments should be clear-eyed about the military's appalling human rights record and together demand the military abandon its wholesale assault on civilian rule, human rights, and the rule of law."

The U.N. Security Council, in a Thursday statement, "stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law." The body further "emphasized the need for the continued support of the democratic transition in Myanmar."

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that it is "absolutely essential" to carry out the Security Council's call for a return to democracy in Myanmar, "which means the reversal of the coup that took place." Guterres added that he believes "we need to have all possible areas of pressure to make it happen."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·


Raging Wars, Soaring Hunger Put Women and Girls in Crosshairs, Warns UN

"A toxic mix of crises—conflicts, climate, skyrocketing costs, and the ripple effects of the Ukraine war—are inflicting a devastating toll on the forcibly displaced. This is being felt across the world, but women and girls are particularly suffering."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo