Pro-junta rallies were held on Monday in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw and other towns with a strong military presence. A mix of Buddhist nationalist monks and the supporters of military-backed political parties paraded with posters declaring their support for the military regime and denouncing the civilian resistance movement as terrorists.
The demonstrations were only the second time since the February 1 coup that pro-junta supporters have paraded in public. In late February, Myanmar military supporters marched in downtown Yangon in response to widespread anti-coup protests.
Prior to the coup, extreme Buddhist nationalists and their followers regularly organized pro-military rallies, especially after international criticism of the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State. Over 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh in 2017 after military clearance operations following attacks by Rohingya militants on the security forces in Rakhine.
However, Monday’s demonstrations come after the junta’s lethal crackdowns on civilian anti-regime protesters and when the majority of Myanmar people are bitterly opposed to the military’s coup.
In Naypyitaw, hundreds of regime supporters drove around the capital on motorbikes and in cars shouting pro-junta slogans. They also denounced the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) battling the military and the parallel National Unity Government (NUG), formed by elected lawmakers from the ousted National League for Democracy government and their ethnic allies.
There were similar protests on Monday in Pyin Oo Lwin and Meiktila in Mandalay Region – towns which are both strongholds of the military – and in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina.
In Meiktila, where the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party has a strong presence, junta supporters paraded in cars and on motorbikes.
“I saw over one hundred people who were involved in the rally,” a Meiktila resident told The Irrawaddy.
In Pyin Oo Lwin, home to the army’s officer training academies, hundreds of pro-military supporters drove around the town’s clock tower in downtown at 8am, chanting slogans such as “Say no to the terrorist PDF” and “Down with the NUG who are backed by foreign countries”.
Witnesses said soldiers and police provided security for all the rallies to protect them from attacks by civilian resistance forces.
After the pro-junta rally in Meiktila, a bomb was thrown into a military truck on patrol, killing at least one policeman and injuring a soldier and two others.
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