Tens of thousands of people, including nurses and monks joined a third day of nationwide demonstrations against the Myanmar coup leaders and removal of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi a week ago.
Calls to join protests and to back a campaign of civil disobedience have grown louder and more organised since last Monday’s coup, which drew widespread international condemnation.
“We health workers are leading this campaign to urge all government staff to join the (civil disobedience movement)”, Aye Misan, a nurse at a government hospital said at a protest in the biggest city of Yangon.
“Our message to the public is that we aim to completely abolish this military regime and we have to fight for our destiny.”
Police in the capital Naypyidaw fired brief bursts of a water cannon against a group of the protesters who had gathered on Monday, video from the scene showed.
Thousands marched also in the southeastern coastal city of Dawei and in the Kachin state capital in the far north, the massive crowds reflecting a rejection of military rule by diverse ethnic groups, even those who have been critical of Suu Kyi and accused her government of neglecting minorities.
In Yangon, a group of saffron-robed monks marched in the vanguard of protests with workers and students. They flew multicoloured Buddhist flags alongside red banners in the colour of Suu Kyi’s National league for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide election in November.
“Release Our Leaders, Respect Our Votes, Reject Military Coup,” said one sign. Other signs read “Save democracy” and “Say No to Dictatorship”.
Weekend protests were the biggest since the “Saffron Revolution” led by Buddhist monks in 2007 that helped prompt democratic reforms that were upended by the Feb. 1 coup.
So far gatherings have been peaceful, unlike bloody crackdowns during previous widespread protests in 1988 and 2007.
The government lifted a day-long internet ban at the weekend that prompted even more anger in a country fearful of returning to the isolation and even greater poverty before a transition to democracy began in 2011.
In addition to the street protests, a campaign of civil disobedience has begun, first with doctors and joined by some teachers and other government workers.