Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Myanmar erupts with protests, mysterious bombings

The UN Development Programme warned last week that the impact of the pandemic and the political crisis could see as many as 25 million Myanmar people slide into poverty by 2022

Thousands of protesters were out early in Myanmar cities on 2 May, marching to oppose military rule more than three months after a coup that brought a halt to democratic reform and economic growth and ushered in turmoil.

The protests, which the military has been unable to stop with lethal suppression, were on 2 May coordinated with expatriate communities around the world to mark what organisers called “the global Myanmar spring revolution”.

“Shake the world with the voice of Myanmar people’s unity,” organisers said in a statement.

There were no immediate reports of violence at the rallies.

The protests are only one of the problems the generals have brought on with their 1 February ouster of an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Wars with ethnic minority insurgents in remote frontier regions in the north and east have intensified significantly over the past three months, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, according to UN estimates.

In some places, civilians with makeshift weapons have battled security forces while in central areas military and government facilities that have been secure for generations have been rocked by rocket attacks and a wave of small, unexplained blasts.

The state-run broadcaster in its main 1 May evening news bulletin gave details of at least 11 explosions over the previous 36 hours, most in the main city of Yangon. It reported some damage but no casualties.

There have been no claims of responsibility.

“Some rioters who do not want stability of the state have been throwing and planting handmade bombs at government buildings and on public roads,” the state broadcaster said.

A spokesman for the junta did not answer calls seeking comment.

Khit Thit media reported a blast outside a police barracks in Yangon early on 2 May. Vehicles were ablaze it said, but it gave no information on any casualties.

Later, it reported another blast in the city. A news portal in Shan State in the northeast reported a blast outside the home of a prominent businessman.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group says security forces have killed at least 759 protesters since the coup. Reuters is unable to confirm the casualty toll.

The military, which ruled for almost 50 years until launching a tentative reform process a decade ago, acknowledged in mid-April the death of 248 protesters, saying they were killed after they initiated violence.

Several members of the security forces have been killed in the protests, the military says.

The protests and a parallel civil disobedience campaign of strikes have crippled the economy and raised prospects of hunger for the poor, aid agencies have warned.

The UN Development Programme warned last week that the impact of the pandemic and the political crisis could see as many as 25 million Myanmar people slide into poverty by 2022.

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