Big protests across Myanmar as UN expert fears violence

Yangon, Feb 17 (AP):
Demonstrators in Myanmar gathered Wednesday in their largest numbers so far to protest the military’s seizure of power, as a UN human rights expert warned that troops being brought to Yangon and elsewhere could signal the prospect for major violence.
UN rapporteur Tom Andrews said he was alarmed by reports of soldiers being transported into Yangon, the biggest city.
‘In the past, such troop movements preceded killings, disappearances, and detentions on a mass scale,’ he said in a statement issued by the UN Human Rights office in Geneva. ‘I am terrified that given the confluence of these two developments­ – planned mass protests and troops converging – we could be on the precipice of the military committing even greater crimes against the people of Myanmar.’
Fresh protests roiled Yangon, the second-largest city of Mandalay and the capital Naypyitaw, in defiance of an order banning gatherings of five or more people.
‘Let’s march en masse. Let’s show our force against the coup government that has destroyed the future of youth and our country,’ Kyi Toe, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, wrote on his Facebook page.
Wednesday’s turnout in Yangon appeared to be one of the biggest so far in the city. Protesters have adopted a tactic of blocking off streets from security forces by parking vehicles in groups with their hoods up and the excuse of having engine trouble.
In Naypyitaw, thousands including private bank employees and engineers marched down its wide boulevards, chanting for the release of Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

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