Myanmar’s largest trade unions have begun a widespread strike in the latest attempt to pressure the military to relinquish power after seizing power in a coup on February 1. At least 18 labour organisations representing industries including construction, agriculture, and manufacturing on Monday called on workers “union and non-union alike” to halt work to reverse the February 1 coup and restore Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government to power. The unions in a joint statement said “We are not content simply to create martyrs in the struggle for Myanmar democracy,” “We must win this struggle, and the extended nationwide work stoppage is the path to the people’s victory.”
“The time to take action in defense of our democracy is now,” they added.
“No one can force any Myanmar citizen to work. We are not slaves to the military junta now and we never shall be.”
They added that the nationwide stoppage would continue until “we receive our democracy back”.
Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets in Yangon and Mandaly, Myanmar’s biggest cities, as well as other cities to keep up momentum for the pro-democracy movement.
Soldiers were also deployed to public buildings, hospitals, and universities around the country, sparking confrontations with protesters, Myanmar Now news agency reported.
Witnesses reported the sound of gunfire and stun grenades in different parts of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, during the night.
Women’s groups called for a Htamein (Sarong) movement to mobilise in force and mark International Women’s Day while condemning the generals.