Myanmar protesters launch 'garbage strike' as death toll since coup tops 500

Trash piled on the streets of Myanmar’s capital Tuesday after activists launched a “trash strike” to oppose military rule as the number of pro-democracy protesters killed by security forces since a February 1 coup had risen over 500.

Security forces shot a man in the southernmost city of Kawthaung while clearing the streets, Mizzima reported, and one person was killed in the northern city of Myitkyina, a relative of the 23-year-old victim told Reuters.

The police and a junta spokesman did not respond to comments.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army ousted an elected government led by Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and reinstated military rule after a decade of tentative moves towards democracy.

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At least 512 civilians were killed in almost two months of protest against the coup, 141 of them on Saturday, the bloodiest day of the riots, according to the advocacy group of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

In addition to the protests, a civil strike campaign against disobedience has paralyzed large parts of the economy. In a new tactic, the protesters tried to step up the campaign by asking residents to leave rubbish at intersections in the capital, Yangon.

“This garbage strike is a strike against the junta,” read a poster on social media. “Everybody can participate.”

Images posted on social media showed piles of trash building up.

According to the media and photos on social media, thousands of protesters came out Tuesday to march in several other cities in the country.

14 civilians were killed on Monday, including at least eight in Yangon’s South Dagon neighborhood, the AAPP said.

Security forces fired a heavier than usual weapon at protesters crouched behind a sandbag barricade, witnesses said. It wasn’t immediately clear what weapon it was, but it was believed to be some kind of grenade launcher.

State television said security forces used “ready weapons” to disperse a crowd of “violent terrorists” who destroyed a sidewalk and wounded a man.

A South Dagon resident said Tuesday there had been no pause in the crackdown.

“There was shooting all night,” said the resident, who refused to be identified.

Residents found a badly burned body that morning, the witness said, adding that it was not known what happened to the person and that the military had taken the body away.

United States Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the Generals of Myanmar to stop the killings and the suppression of demonstrations.

For decades, the military in Myanmar justified its coming to power on the grounds that it was the only institution capable of maintaining national unity. It seized power and said the November elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party were fraudulent, a claim rejected by the Electoral Commission.

But foreign criticism and Western sanctions failed to sway the generals, and Suu Kyi continues to be detained in an undisclosed location where various charges have been made, which her lawyer said were fabricated.

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