Feb 13 (Reuters) – Opponents of Myanmar’s military coupsustained mass protests for an eighth straight day on Saturdayas continuing arrests of junta critics added to anger over thedetention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Thousands assembled in the business hub, Yangon, whileprotesters took to the streets of the capital Naypyitaw, thesecond city Mandalay and other towns a day after the biggestprotests so far in the Southeast Asian country.
“Stop kidnapping at night,” was among the signs held up byprotesters in Yangon in response to arrest raids in recent days.
The United Nations human rights office said on Friday morethan 350 people, including officials, activists and monks, havebeen arrested in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 coup, including somewho face criminal charges on “dubious grounds”.
Anger in Myanmar has been fuelled by videos showing morearrests of government critics – including a doctor who was partof the civil disobedience movement. Some arrests have takenplace during the hours of darkness.
Internet memes captioned “Our nights aren’t safe anymore”and “Myanmar military is kidnapping people at night” havecirculated widely on social media.
The government did not respond to requests for comment onthe arrests.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, awatchdog group for political prisoners, voiced concern.
“Family members are left with no knowledge of the charges,location, or condition of their loved ones. These are notisolated incidents, and nighttime raids are targeting dissentingvoices. It is happening across the country,” it said in astatement.
The army said it had seized power because of alleged fraudin a November election that Suu Kyi’s National League forDemocracy party had won in a landslide. The army’s complaintswere dismissed by Myanmar’s electoral commission.
The coup halted a tentative transition to democracy thatbegan in 2011 after nearly half a century of isolation andstagnation under military juntas.
Suu Kyi, for decades the standard bearer of the fight fordemocracy in Myanmar, faces charges of illegally importing andusing six walkie-talkie radios found in a search of her house.
The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolutionon Friday calling on Myanmar to release Suu Kyi and otherofficials from detention and refrain from using violence onprotesters.
Thomas Andrews, the U.N. rights investigator for Myanmar,told a special session of the rights council in Geneva that theU.N. Security Council should consider imposing sanctions andarms embargoes.
Myint Thu, Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations inGeneva, told the session that Myanmar did not want “to stall thenascent democratic transition in the country,” and wouldcontinue international cooperation.
The United States this week began imposing sanctions on theruling generals and some businesses linked to them.
Airline staff, health workers, engineers and school teacherswere among groups that joined the protest marches on Saturdayand which have rallied to a civil disobedience campaign that hasshut down a swath of government business.
“We are preschool teachers, Every child our future, We don’twant dictatorship,” said one banner.
The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper saidthousands of people had joined pro-military demonstrations inparts of Myanmar on Friday. Reuters was not immediately able toverify the report.
The junta remitted the sentences of more than 23,000prisoners on Friday, saying the move was consistent with”establishing a new democratic state with peace, development anddiscipline” and would “please the public”.(Reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Matthew Tostevin;Editing by William Mallard)