Myanmar police fire rubber bullets at protesters defying ban

Security forces in Myanmar on Tuesday used rubber bullets and tear gas against anti-coup protesters who rallied to defy a ban on gatherings.

Demonstrators want power restored to the deposed civilian government and freedom for the nation’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her allies.

Protesters against the Myanmar military coup took to the streets of the country’s major cities for the fourth day in succession. Police in the capital, Naypyidaw, fired rubber bullets at the demonstrators after earlier blasting them with water cannon.

Coup leaders had issued decrees on Monday night that banned gatherings of more than five people in the remote capital, which was purpose-built by the previous military regime. It was also imposed in the largest and second-largest cities of Yangon and Mandalay. Thousands of people have been demonstrating in both places since Saturday.

The legislation bans gatherings of more than five people and imposes an 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew. It was not clear if decrees were in place for other areas.

According to the Reuters news agency, security forces also arrested at least 27 people in Mandalay alone on Tuesday.

People in the crowd chanted “End the military dictatorship” as the water cannon was fired.

Protesters want power restored to the deposed elected government and freedom for Suu Kyi. The military detained her and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) when it blocked a new session of parliament from convening on February 1.

Junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing made a televised speech on Monday evening in an effort to justify the coup. In his address, he insisted the power grab was justified because of “voter fraud”.

Government employees, doctors and teachers are among those have joined a call for civil disobedience and strikes.

The 75-year-old Suu Kyi has been held incommunicado since the coup and is being held in police detention until February 15. She faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkies.

While the NLD won the November national elections by a landslide, the military never accepted the legitimacy of the vote.

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