September 27, 2021

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Thousands protests after Myanmar night of fear

At a Yangon pagoda four suspected ex-criminals lie, tied up, on the ground.They were caught overnight by residents in the Sanchaung neighborhood, who fear Myanmar’s military released them to cause trouble.Worries about criminal activity have increased since Friday (February 12), when the junta announced it would free 23,000 prisoners.They said the move was consistent with “establishing a new, democratic state with peace, development and discipline”But unverified pictures on social media have fueled rumors that criminals are trying to stir unrest by setting fires or poisoning water supplies.Tin Myint, who was among the crowds that detained the men in Sanchaung, cited pro-democracy protests in 1988 – when the military was widely accused of releasing criminals to stage attacks.”We think the military intends to cause violence with these criminals by getting them to infiltrate the peaceful protests. Then the military will have a reason to extend their power to crack down on violence.”The men were handed over to police. The government and the army could not be reached for comment.This is just one episode from a night in which residents patrolled together, fearful of attacks and arrest raids.But despite their worries, people were once again out in force on Sunday (February 14) – from thousands marching in Yangon and convoys of motorbikes in the capital Naypidaw, to drumming in the coastal southeastern town of Dawei and flag-waving and revolutionary songs in Waimaw, in the mountainous, far-northern Kachin.One common thread across those protests – the face of Aung San Suu Kyi.Her detention, on charges of importing walkie-talkies, is due to expire on Monday (February 15). Her lawyer could not be reached for comment on what was set to happen.

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