On Monday, Myanmar’s generals released a strong warning against more demonstrations, with hundreds of thousands on the streets demanding the liberation of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi as an insurgency against their coup gathered momentum.
So far, the junta has refrained from using deadly force to quench the protests across much of the country, but with momentum rising, in an effort to disperse thousands gathered in Naypyidaw, riot police fired water cannons.
Last week, the military arrested Suu Kyi and hundreds of other members of her party’s National League for Democracy, shattering a decade of civilian rule and prompting international condemnation.
State broadcaster MRTV warned that resistance to the junta was unconstitutional in the face of an increasingly bold tide of rebellion and signalled a possible crackdown.
“Action must be taken in accordance with the law with effective measures against offences that disturb, prevent and destroy the stability of the state, public safety and the rule of law,” said a statement read on the channel by the announcer.
With the first big outpourings of resistance to the takeover, tens of thousands of protesters overcame a national internet blackout to mobilise over the weekend.
On Monday, with demonstrations throughout the country and the beginning of a national strike, the uprising built up.
Crowds poured onto the city’s major roads in Yangon, the commercial centre of the country, immobilising traffic and dwarfing the rally of the previous day.
Protesters shouted “Down with military dictatorship” and “release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and arrested people,” flashing the three-finger salute that has come to symbolise their protest as support was honked with car horns.
Over the weekend, calls for a national strike gained traction, with garment workers, civil servants and railway personnel walking out of work in the commercial centre.
“This is a working day, but even if our salary is cut, we’re not going to work,” one protester, 28-year-old garment factory worker Hnin Thazin, told AFP.
The Yangon rally was joined by construction worker Chit Min, 18, who said his allegiance to Suu Kyi outweighed worries about his financial condition.
“I’ve been unemployed for a week now due to the military coup, and I’m worried about my survival,” he told AFP.
Similarly, in Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, huge crowds marched, many holding images of Suu Kyi and waving her party’s red flags.
Police sought to clear thousands of protesters gathering on a highway in Naypyidaw, where it is suspected that the deposed chief is being held.
According to a reporter at the scene, a water gun was fired into the crowd, wounding at least two demonstrators.
Huge rallies, from Muse on the Chinese border to the southern cities of Dawei and Hpa-an, were also recorded across most of the world.
In the early evening, demonstrators began to scatter.