YANGON—In a move many fear could herald a crackdown on anti-coup protesters, Myanmar’s military regime has banned gatherings of more than five people in Yangon and other areas of the country, even as the protests continue to gain momentum with hundreds of thousands of people across the country joining in.
The orders released on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning don’t blanket the whole country, but apply to specific townships in 10 regions and states where anti-military coup rallies have been going on since last weekend.
The affected areas are in the regions and states of Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyitaw, Magwe, Sagaing, Kachin, Kayah, Mon, Karen and Shan.
The orders were announced on Tuesday morning via the military information team’s Facebook page as protesters across the country were gearing up to take to the streets for a fourth day to express their opposition to military rule. The Myanmar military staged a coup last week, arresting the country’s democratically elected leaders, President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
The restrictions ban the “assembly of five or more people in public spaces, rallies, demonstrations [and] delivering public speeches.”
They also extend the hours of the nightly curfew to 8 p.m. to dawn. (Previously it had been in effect from midnight to 4 a.m.) Since Monday, in Yangon alone, the number of protesters taking part in the rallies has swelled into the hundreds of thousands as people from all walks of life joined in. The same has occurred in other parts of the country, with some government workers also joining in. Almost all offices and major private banks have been closed since Monday.
Prior to the ban, the military regime warned anti-coup protesters on Monday afternoon that legal measures would be taken to prevent any offenses harming the stability of the state, public safety or the rule of law.
On Monday and Tuesday, police in the capital Naypyitaw used water cannons and fired warning shots to disperse thousands of protesters.
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