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Deposed Myanmar Politicians Defy Coup

People take part in a noise campaign on the street after calls for protest against the military coup emerged on social media, in Yangon, Feb. 5, 2021.
People take part in a noise campaign on the street after calls for protest against the military coup emerged on social media, in Yangon, Feb. 5, 2021.

Nearly 300 members of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's deposed ruling party proclaimed Friday to be the only lawful representatives of the country’s citizenry and called for global recognition as the stewards of the country’s government.

The politicians also formed a committee to execute parliamentary functions, according to the National League for Democracy’s Facebook page.

The party posted a letter on social media to the United Nations and the global community requesting targeted sanctions and calling for businesses to sever relations with the Myanmar military, which holds vast lucrative assets.

It was not immediately clear whether their declaration would have any practical effect, but the NLD vowed to act “in the best interests of our people and in the very essence of democracy.”

The NLD’s announcement came hours after hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Myanmar’s capital Friday, as the military expanded its dragnet against ousted officials.

In the largest protests since Monday’s military coup, protesters at Myanmar University and Yangon University, both in Yangon, demanded that the military hand power back to Myanmar’s elected officials.

They chanted “Long live Mother Suu,” a reference to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and, “We don’t want military dictatorship.”

Suu Kyi was detained Monday and faces charges of illegally importing and using six unregistered walkie-talkie radios found in a search of her home in the capital, Naypyitaw.

There was at least one protest in Naypyitaw, where Win Htein, a senior member of Suu Kyi’s NLD, was arrested. A party spokesman said Htein was taken from his home Friday before the university protests began.

Suu Kyi’s attorney confirmed Friday that the ousted leader and President Win Myint were being held at their homes, but he was unable to meet with them because they remained under investigation.

Government officials from various agencies joined the protest in Naypyitaw, including those from the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, and the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs and Social Welfare.

Like many other protesters, they donned red ribbons and raised a three-finger salute, a sign of resistance against tyranny in the “Hunger Games” movies.

Health care workers at Naypyitaw’s largest hospital also participated in the rally, gathering behind a large banner denouncing the takeover.

Protests, sometimes led by people from Myanmar, were also held Friday in India, Indonesia and South Korea.

Myanmar’s new military rulers blocked access to Facebook on Thursday, prompting thousands of social media users in the country to join Twitter, according to app downloads and an estimate by Reuters.

Later Friday, the military rulers ordered mobile operators and internet service providers to block access to Twitter and Instagram in the country “until further notice,” according to Norwegian telecom Telenor.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology did not immediately answer a request for comment from Reuters. Twitter did not immediately comment on the disruptions.

The military takeover began with the detention of Suu Kyi, who was the country's de facto leader, and other senior government officials. Suu Kyi is healthy as she remains under house arrest at her official residence in Naypyitaw, according to party spokesman Kyi Toe.

The Myanmar military said its state of emergency, set to last one year, was necessary because the government had not acted on claims of voter fraud in November elections that were overwhelmingly won by NLD.

U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders condemned the coup and called for the elected government to be restored to power.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has long struggled between civilian and military rule but until the coup had been enjoying a hopeful transition to democracy.

A British colony until 1948, Myanmar was ruled by military dictators from 1962 to 2010.