Tens of thousands of people have massed up on the streets in Myanmar in the first massive show of protest since the military took over, despite a nationwide internet shutdown carried out to suppress dissent, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
Myanmar's new military leaders are facing an increasing wave of outrage over their coup that overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government.
They are demanding the immediate release of Suu Kyi and other democratically elected officials. Police armed with riot shields have blocked the main roads that lead to the city center.
Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since 2006, had struggled against the previous military government before a chaotic democratic transition started in 2011.
During the protest, the people shouted "down with the military dictatorship!" as the angry mob held up three-finger salutes, signs that critics of Monday's military takeover are growing louder.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the elections on Nov. 8 via landslide, an outcome the military authorities have refused to acknowledge, claiming irregularity.
A near-total internet blackout has been imposed with connection rates dropping to 16% of normal levels, monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory said.
Many internet users noted a gradual loss of data services, especially from mobile and telecoms providers, that accelerated late Saturday morning.
The country's new military junta has ordered local telecom companies and internet service providers (ISPs) to block Instagram and Twitter days after carrying out a similar suspension on Facebook to ensure "stability" in the Southeast Asian country.
Human rights group Amnesty International called the internet blackout as "heinous and reckless" and warned it could put the people of Myanmar at risk of human rights abuses.
The protests came after authorities restricted access to the internet, said Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor, which operates in Myanmar.
According to Telenor, it was given an order by the government for a countrywide network disconnection because of the spread of "fake news, stability of the nation and interest of the public," UPI quoted the company as saying.
Myanmar's new military regime had shown that it believed it has the power to "shut the world out and do whatever it wants," said Phil Robertson, the deputy chief of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, as per The Guardian report.
It is not certain if or when the military administration will remove the restrictions. That is unlikely in the near future, analysts said, although massive demonstrations continue despite the new mandate.
As this developed, United States President Joe Biden and the United Nations have called on Myanmar's military commanders to renounce power and release the activists and officials.