On Monday February 22, thousands joined a general strike across Myanmar organized to express opposition to the military government.
Dubbed “22222” or “Five Twos” in reference to the date (22/2/21), the strike mobilized the biggest protests since the military grabbed power on February 1.
Reports compared the strike action to the nationwide uprising held in defiance of the junta on August 8, 1988 (Four Eights) .
The military staged the coup on February 1 following claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election, a charge disputed both by the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and the electoral commission. Parliament members and top NLD officials, including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, were arrested during the first day of the coup.
Citizens launched a civil disobedience movement in response to the coup. The campaign has gathered support and gained in momentum despite a ban on protests, the intermittent disruption of the internet, and the use of violence by security forces to suppress anti-coup activities.
Monday’s strike reflected the scale of public indignation over the coup, the continuing detention of elected leaders, and the recent shooting of protesters by the police.
Journalist Wa Lone posted an overview of Monday’s events:
Businesses shut in Myanmar on Monday in a general strike called to oppose the military coup and thousands of protesters gathered in towns and cities despite a chilling message from the junta that confrontation would cost more lives.
The “chilling message” pertains to a statement by the authorities demonizing the strike and threatening those who participated, a move that was quickly condemned by a United Nations human rights expert.
A strike participant spoke to Frontier magazine about the workers’ commitment to fighting the military dictatorship:
If we oppose the dictatorship, they might shoot us. Everyone knows it. But we have to oppose dictatorship. It’s our duty. That’s why so many people are coming out today against them.
Many businesses closed operations in anticipation of the strike.
Photos of massive protests in different cities were shared on social media:
The “Two Five” general strike against the military rule on 22.2.2021 are growing hour by hour in the downtown Yangon marked by ancient Sule Pagoda. #2Fivegeneralstrike #WhatIsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/ClwDvxk36q
— Myanmar Now (@Myanmar_Now_Eng) February 22, 2021
Taunggyi – 19th day of protests on February 22
— ElevenMyanmar (@ElevenMyanmar) February 22, 2021
Nationwide ‘22222’ General Strike: Mandalay residents take part in a huge sit-in protest against the military regime on Monday morning, marking Myanmar’s “22222” general strike. (Photo: The Irrawaddy) pic.twitter.com/1qwpEJq07f
— The Irrawaddy (Eng) (@IrrawaddyNews) February 22, 2021
— paing_takhon_Intel_fanpage❤️ (@takhon_intel) February 22, 2021
Among those consistently providing support to the civil disobedience movement are many Buddhist monks.
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