Myanmar junta imposes curfew, meeting bans as protests swell

Myanmar_09306 Buddhist monks flash a three-fingered salute of defiance in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_24821 Protesters gather at an intersection while others watch from an elevated walkway in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_28923 Protesters flash three-fingered salutes from behind a police barricade near Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_58025 Protesters hold a banner with an image of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi as they march in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_38920 Protesters hold posters with an image of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi as they march in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_55256 Buddhist monks flash the three-fingered salute of defiance while holding a placard reading "Let the Dictatorship Fail" in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_10948 In this image taken from a video aired on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing speaks in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. In his first speech to the nation after grabbing power a week ago, Myanmar’s military chief blamed politicians and the election commission for forcing him to stage the coup d’etat.
Myanmar_23994 In this image taken from a video aired on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing speaks in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. In his first speech to the nation after grabbing power a week ago, Myanmar’s military chief blamed politicians and the election commission for forcing him to stage the coup d’etat.
APTOPIX_Myanmar_46881 Protesters holding an image of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi & President Win Myint in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_30262 Protesters hold placards with an X mark on the image of Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and a sign that says 'Shame on You, Dictator. We never forgive you' as they march in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_62203 Protesters raise their hands with clenched fists during a protest march in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_05609 Protesters who are marching and riding motorbikes fill a road in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_79628 Protesters hold up Wanted posters with an image of Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, as they march in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Myanmar_81450 Protesters hold the Myanmar flag as they gather in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Myanmar_33776 Protesters hold a march in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_23388 Protesters raise clenched fists while others hold placards as they hold a march in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_30030 Buddhist monks flash a three-fingered salute of defiance while holding a placard reading "Let the Dictatorship Fail" in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_99542 A protester holds an image of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi as fellow protesters march around Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_78281 A protester holds a placard with an image of Myanmar military Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and Justice For Myanmar as fellow protesters march around Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_24752 A protester holds a placard with an image of Myanmar military Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and Justice For Myanmar as fellow protesters march around Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_20547 A protester waves a Myanmar flag during protesters in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
APTOPIX_Myanmar_01170 Armed riot police are seen near protesters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
APTOPIX_Myanmar_24821 Protesters gather at an intersection while others watch from an elevated walkway in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_Mandalay_15785 A protesters flashes the three-fingered protest sign during a march in Mandalay, Myanmar, at sunset on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_33607 Protesters flash the three-fingered salute as they march in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
APTOPIX_Myanmar_48300 A police truck sprays water to a crowd of protesters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_12980 Protesters are sprayed with water fired from a police truck's water cannon in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_84528 In this handout satellite photo provided by Maxar, large crowds take part in protests following last week's military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Myanmar’s military government has imposed a curfew and bans on gatherings of more than five people in the country’s two biggest cities as protests against its coup show no sign of abating.
Myanmar_45483 A Buddhist nun flashes the three-fingered salute as protesters gather outside the Hledan Center in Yangon, Myanmar Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Myanmar_01170 Armed riot police are seen near protesters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_51585 Protesters flash the three-fingered salute while holding cardboard signs as they gather outside the Hledan Center in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
APTOPIX_Myanmar_78299 A man holds up a cardboard sign as other protesters flash the three-fingered salute while gathering outside the Hledan Center in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Myanmar_95065 A man shouts while holding a cardboard placard while other protesters flash the three-fingered salute outside the Hledan Center in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
APTOPIX_Myanmar_49333 Protesters flashing three fingered salutes and holding an image with an X mark on the face of Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing face rows of riot police in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_18553 Protesters flash the three-fingered salute as they gather outside the Hledan Center in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Myanmar_63698 A police truck uses a water cannon to disperse a crowd of protesters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_78299 A man holds up a cardboard sign as other protesters flash the three-fingered salute while gathering outside the Hledan Center in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Myanmar_13012 A police truck uses a water cannon to disperse a crowd of protesters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_84448 Protesters hold a banner that reads "We are against orders by military dictators" as they gather outside the Hledan Center in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Myanmar_64292 Protesters face riot police in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_61575 Protesters flash the three-fingered salute as they march in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Myanmar_70594 Protesters march near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_90985 A protester holds a monk's bowl upside down as a symbol of boycott during the march around Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_05086 Protesters march near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_18427 Protesters holding an image of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar's one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold.
Myanmar_15746 Protesters march near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_54170 Protesters hold large three-fingered salute cutouts while onboard a vehicle in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar_28982 Protesters flash the three-fingered salute as they march near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw.
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YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s new military rulers on Monday signaled their intention to crack down on opponents of their takeover, issuing decrees that effectively banned peaceful public protests in the country’s two biggest cities.

The restrictions were ordered after police fired water cannons at hundreds of protesters in the capital, Naypyitaw, who were demanding the military hand power back to elected officials. It was just one of many demonstrations around the country.

Rallies and gatherings of more than five people, along with motorized processions, were banned, and an 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew was imposed for areas of Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s first- and second-biggest cities, where thousands of people have been demonstrating since Saturday.

Protesters in Yangon rallied Monday at a major downtown intersection raising three-finger salutes that are symbols of resistance and carrying placards saying, “Reject the military coup” and “Justice for Myanmar.”

There were also demonstrations in towns in the north, southeast and east of the country.

The decrees enabling the new restrictive measures were issued on a township-by-township basis, and were expected to be extended to other areas as well. They say they were issued in response to people carrying out unlawful actions that harm the rule of law, a reference to the protests.

The growing defiance was striking in a country where past demonstrations have been met with deadly force. That resistance was happening in Naypyitaw, whose population includes many civil servants and their families, spoke to the level of anger among people who had only begun to taste democracy in recent years after five decades of military rule.

“We do not want the military junta,” said Daw Moe, a protester in Yangon. “We never ever wanted this junta. Nobody wants it. All the people are ready to fight them.”

The coup came the day newly elected lawmakers were supposed to take their seats in Parliament after November elections. The generals have said that vote was marred by fraud — though the country’s election commission has dismissed that claim.

State media for the first time on Monday made reference to the protests, claiming they were endangering the country’s stability.

“Democracy can be destroyed if there is no discipline,” declared a statement from the Ministry of Information, read on state television station MRTV. “We will have to take legal actions to prevent acts that are violating state stability, public safety and the rule of law.”

However, the military commander who led the coup and is now Myanmar’s leader made no mention of the unrest in a 20-minute televised speech Monday night, his first to the public since the takeover.

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing instead repeated the claims about voting fraud that have been the justification for the military’s takeover, allegations that were refuted by the state election commission. He added that his junta would hold new elections as promised in a year and hand over power to the winners, and explained the junta’s intended policies for COVID-19 control and the economy.

The growing protests recall previous movements in the Southeast Asian country’s long and bloody struggle for democracy. On Sunday, tens of thousands of protesters rallied at Yangon’s Sule Pagoda, which was a focal point of demonstrations against military rule during a massive 1988 uprising and again during a 2007 revolt led by Buddhist monks. The military used deadly force to end both of those uprisings. Aside from a few officers, soldiers have not been in the streets at protests this past week.

Photos of the standoff in Naypyitaw on Monday showed a vast crowd of protesters hemmed in on several sides by large numbers of police and police vehicles. Officers there trained a water cannon on the crowd, which was gathered near a giant statue of Aung San, who led the country’s 1940s fight for independence from Britain and is the father of Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected leader who was deposed by last week’s takeover.

Suu Kyi — who became an international symbol of the country’s fight for freedom while detained in her home for 15 years and earned the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts — is now back under house arrest.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent watchdog group, says 165 people, mostly politicians, had been detained since the Feb. 1 coup, with just 13 released.

One foreigner has been confirmed held by the authorities, Sean Turnell, an economist at Australia’s Macquarie University who was an adviser to Suu Kyi’s government. He was detained Saturday under unclear circumstances.

A statement from the office of Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said he was being provided with consular support and described him as “a highly regarded adviser, member of the academic community” who should immediately be released.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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