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Protesters in Myanmar’s biggest city return with ‘Guerrilla-Style’ tactics

Screenshot 2021-04-29 074952

The streets of Myanmar’s commercial capital, Yangon, have seen a limited resumption of protest activity after more than three weeks of relative calm due to brutal crackdowns by junta forces, including the use of explosives.

In the 57 days between Feb. 1 and March 29, around 210 anti-regime protesters, residents and bystanders were killed by the regime’s police and soldiers in the commercial capital.

On March, 29, regime forces even used heavy explosives in cracking down on an anti-regime protest in Yangon’s South Dagon Township, killing at least 15 protesters.

Since then, anti-regime protests have been few and far between in Yangon due to the heavy presence of junta forces and widespread arrests of protesters. Military troops have been deployed in every township.

Meanwhile, many of the youths who were once on the frontlines protecting protesters from crackdowns have joined ethnic armed organizations in the countryside to learn military training in order to fight back against the junta’s forces.

While there have been no planned, full-scale protests for the past three weeks, the capital has seen a number of small-scale, spontaneous anti-regime demonstrations pop up in many townships.

On April 23, several dozen anti-regime protesters returned to the streets of downtown Yangon to call for democracy a day before Myanmar military coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing left to attend an ASEAN summit in Indonesia.

Since then, a series of guerilla-style protests have been seen on the streets of Kyauktada, Sanchaung, Ahlone, Hlaing, Kamayut, Dawbon, Thaketa, Tarmwe, Insein and Hlaign Tharyar townships.

More than 200 anti-regime protesters staged a surprise march on the streets of Yangon’s Sanchuang Township on Tuesday.

To show their support for the protest, many residents joined in, while street vendors and residents of surrounding apartments clapped and flashed three-finger salutes.

A 30-year-old protester who helped organize some guerilla anti-regime protests in the city told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that protesters are returning to streets in order to show that people still do not accept military rule in the city.

When asked about the risk of being shot or arrested, the protester said, “We are scared as we can’t defend ourselves from them anymore. But, we will have to live a lifetime of fear if we stay at home. So, we decided to fight,” he said.

The protester said he and all his family members had to flee their homes in fear of raids after an arrest warrant was issued for him by the junta for his involvement in anti-regime activities.

“Now, I am on the streets and I have lost my future. The only thing in my mind is to achieve victory in our fight [for democracy]. So, we will fight till the end [of military rule],” said the protester.

The Association of South East Asian Nations urged Myanmar’s coup leader to end the violence in the country and seek a political resolution to the crisis through dialog at their summit in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday.

However, coup leader Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing said only that the junta will consider constructive suggestions from ASEAN once the situation returns to stability in the country.

The military regime has continued its brutal killings and arrests of anti-regime protesters and civilians.

As of Tuesday, more than 750 people have been killed by the junta’s forces during their crackdowns, raids, arrests, interrogations and random shootings, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) which has been compiling data on arrests and deaths since the Feb. 1 coup.

Those killed include anti-regime protesters, NLD party members, bystanders, pedestrians and residents.

More than 3,440 people including elected leaders, NLD party members, election commissioners, protesters, activists, doctors, journalist, writers, artists, teachers and civilians have been detained.

Amid the brutal killings and arrests, people across the country have taken to the streets to protest against the military regime using various methods.