Military leaders order curfew, ban gatherings in Myanmar

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The junta responsible for Myanmar’s military coup on Monday announced strict crackdowns on public protests in the nation’s two largest cities.

The junta announced an 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew in parts of the cities of Mandalay and Yangon, which have been the site of major demonstrations since last weekend. The rulers also said any motorized processions or gatherings of more than five people would be prohibited, according to The Associated Press.

Similar measures are likely for other cities and townships in the country, according to the AP. The country has seen mass demonstrations against the coup in its northern, southeastern and eastern regions. 

Over the weekend, police hit hundreds of protesters in the capital city of Naypyitaw with water cannons. The capital, an unusual site for mass unrest, is the home of numerous civil servants seeking the restoration of the elected Myanmar government, which took power after five decades of military rule.

The military coup occurred the same day candidates elected to Myanmar’s parliament were set to assume office. The junta has alleged the election results are tainted by widespread voter fraud, contradicting the national election commission.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of demonstrators assembled in Yangon, the nation’s biggest city. The protests included thousands of student and labor activists, who assembled at an intersection close to Yangon University.

Another major staging point for the Yangon demonstrations, Sule Pagoda, had been the site of similar demonstrations in 1988 and 2007 uprisings, according to the AP. Although the military used deadly force to put down both previous revolts, the recent demonstrations were predominantly free of military presence.

The independent watchdog organization the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said that since Feb. 1, the date of the coup, the junta has detained 165 people, predominantly politicians. Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been returned to house arrest after previously being detained for 15 years during the military government. Only 13 detainees have been released, according to the group.

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