Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar showing 'huge bravery' in face of regime's military, Dominic Raab says

Anti-coup protesters flee from tear gas launched by security forces in Yangon, Myanmar. Credit: AP

The people of Myanmar are demonstrating “huge bravery” in the face of violence from the military regime, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

Protesters returned to the streets on Monday despite reports security forces had killed at least 18 people around the country the previous day - the highest single-day death toll since the military takeover.

People erected makeshift sidewalk shrines at the spots where several of the victims were shot on Monday and also paid their respects by standing outside the hospitals where the bodies were being released to families.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the crackdown, calling the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrests “unacceptable,” and expressed serious concern at the increase in deaths and serious injuries, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

“What the world is watching in Myanmar is outrageous and unacceptable,” the UN's independent expert on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said in a separate statement.

“Words of condemnation are necessary and welcome but insufficient. The world must act. We must all act.”

Meanwhile Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won a landslide in last year’s election before she was ousted by the junta, appeared in court via video link to face what the Foreign Secretary called “politically-motivated charges”.

She has already been charged with possession of unregistered walkie-talkies and breaking coronavirus restrictions, and reportedly received a further charge for allegedly inciting unrest - a charge that carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Mr Raab called on the generals to release all those “detained arbitrarily” since they seized power.

Protesters watch as police are deployed during an anti-coup protest march in Yangon. Credit: AP

The Foreign Secretary said: “One month on and the military in Myanmar continues to escalate its use of violence to support its coup, including the killing of peaceful protesters over the weekend.

“The people of Myanmar want their voices heard and are showing huge bravery in response to this brutality.

“Today, Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s elected leader, again faced politically-motivated charges.

“The international community must do everything it can to bring pressure to bear to halt the violence, release those detained arbitrarily and restore the elected government.”

Protesters hold homemade shield during an anti-coup protest march in Mandalay. Credit: AP

The military coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar after five decades of military rule.

It came on February 1, the same day a newly elected Parliament was supposed to take office. Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party would have led that government, but instead she was detained along with President Win Myint and other senior officials.

Following her detention on the day of the coup, the 75-year-old Suu Kyi was initially held at her residence in the capital of Naypyitaw, but members of her National League for Democracy party now say they don’t know where she is.

Since the takeover, a movement of protests in cities across the country has been growing - and the junta’s response has become increasingly violent.