March 31 (Insider) – Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar launched a new civil-disobedience campaign this week as the death toll in the country surpasses 500, nearly two months after a military coup.
Trash was piled high in the streets of Myanmar’s main city, Yangon, on Tuesday, as demonstrators maintained a series of strikes in an attempt to paralyze the economy, according to Reuters. Participants initiated a new tactic this week, asking residents to leave their garbage at intersections throughout Yangon.
“This garbage strike is a strike to oppose the junta,” a poster on social media said. “Everyone can join.”
Protests and demonstrations continue throughout the country as the military junta has escalated the violence in recent days, launching air raids in eastern Myanmar that drove thousands to seek shelter across the border in Thailand, according to The Associated Press.
Amid the worsening violence, the United States has ordered the departure of non-emergency staff and families from the US mission in Myanmar, ABC News’ Conor Finnegan reported Tuesday evening.
The move comes just hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraged international companies to cut ties with enterprises that support Myanmar’s military. He also decried the junta’s violent crackdown on protesters across the country.
The US has repeatedly condemned the February coup and imposed several rounds of sanctions against the country, but Myanmar’s generals appear unaffected by international action.
On February 1, Myanmar’s military announced it would be taking over the country for at least a year following the detainment of several top politicians. The military cited unfounded claims of mass voter fraud as justification for the coup just hours before the new parliament was scheduled to meet for the first time since the November election.
Internet access throughout Myanmar was disrupted immediately after the coup, and the cybersecurity watchdog, NetBlocks confirmed the internet was once again shut down in the country at 1:00 a.m. local time Wednesday — the 45th consecutive night of the military-imposed shutdown.
Mass protests and acts of civil disobedience sprang up across the country following the coup and have yet to abate nearly two months in.
Two weeks ago, 138 peaceful protesters had been killed in Myanmar since the coup. That number is now up to 521, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group.
The military junta killed dozens across the country on Saturday on the bloodiest day of protests yet, as the military celebrated the annual Armed Forces Day holiday with a parade in Myanmar’s capital.
The Associated Press reported 93 people were killed Saturday across more than two dozen cities and towns. Fourteen civilians were killed Monday, and a Yangon resident told Reuters the violence had not ceased on Tuesday.
“There was shooting all night,” the anonymous resident told the outlet.
Those killed since the violence began include a 7-year-old girl who died in her father’s arms after being gunned down by security forces in her own home; a teenager who was shot by soldiers Saturday as he rode his motorbike with friends; a teenage girl named Angel who was shot in the head during a protest earlier this month; and a 20-year-old student whose funeral erupted into violence when Myanmar police opened fire on mourners, arresting and wounding several attendees.