Medical workers at the forefront of the campaign against the coup lead protests on the third day of country’s New Year.
The committee representing Myanmar’s dismissed parliament has announced the formation of a new “unity government” which includes removed lawmakers, members of ethnic groups and figures in the anti-coup protest, saying their aim was to root out military rule.
The announcement was made on Friday by Dr Sasa, who has been designated by the dismissed parliament as representative to the United Nations.
“For the first time in our history, Myanmar has a unity government,” he declared on social media, posting the document showing Win Myint as president and Aung San Suu Kyi as state counsellor.
Myanmar’s acting Vice President Mahn Win Khaing Than was appointed interim prime minister. Dr Sasa himself has been designated as the union minister in international cooperation.
Today, at the end of Thingyan on the eve of Myanmar’s new year, we are proud to announce the formation of a new National Unity Government and the dawn of a new era for the people of Myanmar. For the first time in our history, Myanmar has a unity government. pic.twitter.com/t2prgeZahB
— Dr. Sasa (@DrSasa22222) April 16, 2021
The latest development comes as thousands of people staged different forms of protests nationwide – from the “silent strike” in Yangon to protest marches in Mandalay and elsewhere – against the February 1 coup and denouncing the violent crackdown that killed more than 700 people.
Photos circulating on social media showed Myanmar’s old capital looking like a ghost town as the usually busy streets and intersections are left completely empty. Some vehicles were seen passing by in the downtown area of Yangon, supposedly teeming with people marking the country’s New Year festival.
“Let’s make the roads silent,” protest leader Ei Thinzar Maung posted on her Facebook page. “We have to stage a Silent Strike to show our sorrow for the martyrs who have scarified [sacrificed] their lives. The most silent voice is the loudest.”
Friday is the third day of the five-day traditional Buddhist New Year holiday, known as Thingyan.
Most people this year are shunning the usual festivities to focus on their campaign against the generals who overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and locked up with many others.
In Mandalay, thousands of masked protesters marched carrying huge banners calling for the military to stand down.
Thousands of people also marched in Hpakant, the jade town in Kachin state.
In the Sagaing region, hundreds of protesters rode their vehicles and waved the flag of the National League for Democracy (NLD) of the country’s overthrown leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
On Thursday, a protest organiser in the region, Wai Moe Naing, was detained by the military.
Similar scenes of defiant civilians on their motorbikes were seen along the coast of the Tanintharyi region.
In Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state, hundreds of protesters gathered in an open field to stage a sticky rice ball strike, according to photos posted on social media by the Kantarawaddy Times.
Two people were shot dead in the central town of Myingyan in violence overnight, Radio Free Asia reported.
The military has also been rounding up its critics and has published the names of more than 200 people wanted under a law that makes it illegal to encourage mutiny or dereliction of duty in the armed forces.
Late on Thursday, soldiers raided a famous Buddhist monastery in Mandalay and arrested two people, the Myanmar Now media group reported.
The crackdown continued on Friday, with reports of security forces taking civilians from their homes in the Aung Zaya district in Yangon, stopping motorists in Bago Division.