Yangon, 27 ethnic groups united in march against the coup
by Francis Khoo Thwe

In a historic first diverse ethnic groups march in unison. Military junta claims "national unity" to exploit the mineral, wood, water and oil resources found on their lands. The strikes continue with hundreds of thousands of participants. The army uses rubber bullets and water cannons. There have been around 500 arrests so far.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Thousands of people, belonging to 27 ethnic groups of the country, are marching in the economic capital to demand the end of the military dictatorship, the release of those arrested and a federal union of the state (photo 1).

The demonstration of ethnic groups, who all come together and united, is added to that of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators from all walks of life and social sectors to protest against the coup.

The groups also visited several embassies and handed them a letter calling for an end to the state of emergency. Most of the protesters accuse China (and Russia) of supporting the military regime.

It is perhaps one of the first times that the different ethnic groups have marched in unison. They include groups from karen (kaya), kachin, shan, mon, wa, ... - the country is made up of 135 ethnic groups – all of whom have suffered the violence of the army in the past.

The military junta has often brandished the claim of " national unity” to exploit the mineral, wooded, aquifer and oil resources found in their lands. There are still no peace treaties with some of these groups, including the Kachin.

Democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi has long been working for a federal or semi-federal solution, but she is hindered by the army which - according to ethnic groups - does not want to give up economic power over resources.

The groups who march or stage sit-ins (photo 2) are helped by women religious who distribute drinks and food to the demonstrators (photo 3).

For three days, the army has taken to the streets with tanks and armoured vehicles trying to obstruct the demonstrations. They use rubber bullets and fire hydrants, leaving many injured, but - at least so far - no deaths.

In an attempt to stem resistance, there is a tenacious curfew from 1 to 4 in the morning; the internet is blocked from 1 am to 9 am.

Meanwhile, the series of arrests continues. Yesterday an arrest order was issued for six artists, guilty of inciting the crowd and above all state employees to demonstrate and implement civil disobedience. Due to the lack of staff, trains and hospitals are in trouble.

Other personalities are arrested for writing appeals on blogs which, according to the junta, "put the country's security and peace in difficulty".

It is estimated that since the coup d'état, last February 1st, the junta has made about 500 arrests.