Myanmar protesters launch 'garbage strike' as death toll tops 500

Rubbish piled up on the streets of Myanmar’s main city on Tuesday after activists launched a “garbage strike” to oppose military rule as the toll of pro-democracy protesters killed by the security forces since a Feb. 1 coup rose to more than 500.

Out of 14 civilians killed on Monday, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said at least eight were in the South Dagon district of the biggest city, Yangon.

Security forces in the area fired a heavier calibre weapon than usual on Monday towards protesters crouching behind a barricade of sand bags, witnesses said. It was not immediately clear what weapon it was but it was believed to be some type of grenade launcher.

State television said security forces used “riot weapons” to disperse a crowd of “violent terrorist people” who were destroying a pavement and one man was wounded.

A South Dagon resident said on Tuesday security forces had been cracking down in the area overnight, raising concern of more casualties.

“There was shooting all night,” said the resident who declined to be identified.

Residents found a badly burned body on a street in the morning, the resident said, adding it was not known what had happened to the person and the military took the body away.

Police and a junta spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment.

Thousands of protesters came out in several other towns across the country, according to media and photos on social media. There were no immediate reports of violence.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Myanmar’s generals to stop the killings and repression of demonstrations.

A civil disobedience campaign of strikes against military rule has paralysed large parts of the economy and in a new tactic, protesters sought to step up the campaign by asking residents to leave garbage at main road intersections. (reuters)