People wounded as hundreds of thousands of protesters defy Myanmar junta

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Supporters of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi clashed with police on Friday as hundreds of thousands joined nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations in defiance of the junta’s call to halt mass gatherings.

Mostly peaceful protests erupted around the Southeast Asian country in the biggest mass demonstrations so far against last week’s military coup, a day after Washington slapped sanctions on the generals who led the takeover.

Three people were wounded when police fired rubber bullets to break up a crowd of tens of thousands of protesters in the southeastern town of Mawlamyine, a Myanmar Red Cross official told Reuters.

Demonstrators hold placards during a protest against the military coup outside the Russian Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, 12 February 2021. EPA-EFE/LYNN BO BO

Footage broadcast by Radio Free Asia showed police charging at protesters, grabbing one of them and smashing him in the head. Stones are then thrown at police before the shots are fired.

“Three got shot – one woman in the womb, one man on his cheek and one man on his arm,” said Myanmar Red Cross official Kyaw Myint, who witnessed the clash.

“The crowd is still growing,” he added.

A Myanmar army soldier stands guard during the parade to mark the 74th anniversary of Myanmar’s Union Day in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, 12 February 2021. Union Day, a public celebration, commemorates the start of the Union of Myanmar (formerly Burma) on 12 February 1947, when representatives of the national ethnic groups signed an agreement consolidating unity between highlands and plains to build the sovereign independent Union of Myanmar. EPA-EFE/NYUNT WIN

In the biggest city Yangon, hundreds of doctors in white duty coats and scrubs marched past the golden Shwedagon pagoda, the country’s holiest Buddhist site, while in another part of town, football fans wearing team kits marched with humorous placards denouncing the military.

Other demonstrations took place in the capital Naypyitaw, the coastal town of Dawei, and in Myitkyina, the capital of northern Kachin state, where young men played rap music and staged a dance-off.

A police officer stands guards as a demonstrator holds a cut out of the defiant three-finger salute during a protest against the military coup outside the Chinese Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, 12 February 2021. EPA-EFE/LYNN BO BO

Social media giant Facebook said it would cut the visibility of content run by Myanmar’s military, saying they had “continued to spread misinformation” after seizing power in the Feb. 1 coup.

Main Photo: A demonstrator dressed as a character from the Spanish television series ‘La Casa de Papel’ (Money Heist) holds a picture of detained Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest against the military coup outside the Russian Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, 12 February 2021. EPA-EFE/LYNN BO BO