dpa/GNA – People demonstrating against the military coup in Myanmar clashed with pro-military protesters on Thursday, while the military regime faced more sanctions from Britain and was blocked by Facebook.
In the largest city, Yangon, supporters of the coup pelted pro-democracy protesters with stones, leaving several people injured, according to eyewitnesses cited by news portal Frontier Myanmar.
Ma Su, a resident, told Frontier Myanmar that the pro-military group was also carrying knives and batons.
People on social media speculated that the military paid the group to cause unrest and make it seem like the armed forces had a large support base.
For weeks, Myanmar has been shaken by mass protests after the military took power and detained de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. Security forces have violently cracked down on protesters; three people have been killed to date and scores detained.
Suu Kyi is said to be under house arrest, although her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said he was still unable to visit her and remained barred from participating in an upcoming trial hearing on Monday, according to newspaper The Irrawaddy.
Independent media organizations in Myanmar issued a statement saying that they will continue to report on the protests freely, after the Ministry of Information warned them not to use terms like “coup government” or “military regime” in their reporting.
On Thursday, Britain issued sanctions against six additional members of the military as a result of “their responsibility for serious human rights violations,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.
The measures are designed to stop the targeted individuals from travelling to Britain. Those targeted include Commander-in-Chief General Min Aung Hlaing and other leading members of the military.
“Today’s package of measures sends a clear message to the military regime in Myanmar that those responsible for human rights violations will be held to account, and the authorities must hand back control to a government elected by the people of Myanmar,” Raab said.
The measures bring the number of individuals sanctioned by London to 25. Britain has also temporarily suspended all promotion of trade with Myanmar, the government said.
On Wednesday, Facebook announced a ban on Myanmar’s military on its platforms with immediate effect.
“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban. We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw [the armed forces of Myanmar] on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” the company said in a statement.
The social media giant said the Myanmar military and military-controlled state and media entities, as well as ads linked to the army, would be banned from the two platforms.
Facebook said that the army ban was the result of its history of “exceptionally severe human rights abuses and the clear risk of future military-initiated violence” in the country, as well as its repeated violations of the platforms’ community standards, among other reasons.
The move follows the removal of “at least six Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior networks run by the Tatmadaw” and a ban on some 20 individuals linked to the military, including Min Aung Hlaing, between 2018 and 2020.
Campaigners against the coup called a general strike on Monday as enormous crowds flooded towns and cities across the country despite threats of violence from the new regime.
Two people were killed in the second-largest city of Mandalay on Saturday as police and soldiers attacked protesters gathered to protect striking shipyard workers when police tried to arrest them.
On Friday, a woman died after being shot in the head by police at a rally the week before.