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Protesters in Myanmar call on China to withdraw support from the Junta

 Pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar directly appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping to withdraw his government's support for the country's powerful military as mass demonstrations swept through cities and towns for the fifth day in a row.

Protesters in Myanmar call on China to withdraw support from the Junta

Outside the Chinese embassy in Yangon on Wednesday, protesters pleaded with Xi to help reverse last week's military coup, while others held signs reading "We are watching you" and "We know what you are doing." Photographs taken by local media. Protesters also gathered outside United Nations offices and embassies, including the United States, Japan, China, Korea and India, in an attempt to generate international support for the return of a civilian government.

They returned to the streets despite the increasing risk of violence from security forces, who had used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to push back protesters just a day earlier.

"Our goal is simply to get our message across to the world's top leaders like Joe Biden and Xi Jinping not to support and interact with the military junta," said Kyaw Soe Thu, 22, a student protester who promoted the sit-ins. , referring to the president of the United States. "We are not worried about the water cannons and the shots because the military does not dare to do it in front of these embassies."

China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the protests, while Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin dismissed rumors that Beijing was sending teams and experts to censor the internet in Myanmar as "fake".

"We hope that all parties in Myanmar will take into account the broader picture of its national stability and development and exercise restraint and properly address their differences within the constitutional and legal framework to preserve political and social stability," Wang said in a conference newspaper. press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

"Tolerance of terror"

As Myanmar's largest trading partner, China has strengthened its relationship with the military in recent years amid a push to develop Belt and Road Initiative projects. Even when the United Nations Security Council called last week for the "immediate release" of all those detained by the armed forces, China's diplomats tried to strike a balance by issuing a separate statement noting that it is still a "friendly neighbor." from Myanmar.

The street protests that have been accumulating since the military took power in a coup on February 1. The youth-led movement has used social media to mobilize its supporters with three main demands: the release of civil leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, recognition of the 2020 election results won by his party, and the withdrawal of the military from politics.

On Wednesday, live broadcasts showed officials from various ministries in the capital, Naypyidaw, gathered near the city's Central Market, shouting "Do not go to the office," in defiance of Warlord Min Aung Hlaing's warning to the workers of the government not to get involved in politics. . At least one protester, a 20-year-old computer science student, remains in critical condition in Naypyidaw after the use of force by police on Tuesday.

"The military obviously wants the protests to stop and is trying to scare people this week, but people's tolerance for terror is increasing," said Dereck Aw, Myanmar's lead analyst at Control Risks. “The current wave of protests that I imagine would abate when the protest leaders were arrested or went into hiding. Therefore, we are facing a cycle of escalating and de-escalation of riots in which each cycle has the potential to provoke a lethal response from the military. "

Peaceful protests

Thurein Win, a protester in Mandalay, said that up to 100,000 people can join the demonstrations on Wednesday before the day is out, including monks from the city's largest monastery, students, teachers and workers.

"The military junta is trying to portray the peaceful protesters as instigators in the state media," Thurein Win said. "So, we will make sure to avoid confrontations in all our protests today."

Photographs on local media sites have shown protesters on the streets in a variety of costumes, raising the three-finger salute popular with protesters in neighboring Thailand. A couple in Yangon protested in full wedding suits, while women dressed as Disney princesses also marched, and one holding a sign that read "I don't want a dictatorship, I just want a boyfriend." On Wednesday, dozens of police officers in eastern Kayah state were reported to have joined the protests, holding signs reading "we are with the people."

At least 20 protesters were injured after police used rubber bullets in Naypyidaw during the most serious clashes on Tuesday, according to a network of doctors supporting the protests. In the northern city of Mandalay, witnesses said security forces fired tear gas and water cannons and detained 36 people. Four police officers were also injured, according to the office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services.

The Suu Kyi National League for Democracy denounced the police actions against the protesters. "The NLD strongly condemns the crackdowns as they are acts of violence against bare-handed people by the armed forces," the party said in a statement Wednesday. "We urge the authorities concerned to act immediately to prevent this type of violence again."

On Monday, Min Aung Hlaing defended the military takeover of the government by repeating accusations of electoral fraud in the November elections that have been questioned by the electoral commission, international observers and Suu Kyi's party. He also reiterated that the army would hold elections after the one-year state of emergency and respect the result.

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