Opponents of Myanmar's military coup have vowed to continue non-violent action in the face of bans on big gatherings, night curfews and road closures after the biggest demonstrations in more than a decade.

Myanmar police armed with automatic rifles move in on protesters as they continue to demonstrate against the February 1 military coup in the capital Naypyitaw on February 9, 2021.
Myanmar police armed with automatic rifles move in on protesters as they continue to demonstrate against the February 1 military coup in the capital Naypyitaw on February 9, 2021. (stringer / AFP)

Myanmar police have fired rubber bullets and water canons to disperse anti-coup protesters who have defied warnings from Myanmar’s generals to rally for a fourth straight day after the military imposed a ban on gatherings at flashpoint sites.

The military banned gatherings of more than five people in parts of Yangon, the nation's commercial capital, and other areas across the country where major rallies had erupted over the weekend and on Monday.

At least three people were hurt by rubber bullets in the capital Naypyitaw, a doctor said.

The February 1 coup and detention of elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has brought the largest demonstrations in more than a decade and a growing civil disobedience movement affecting hospitals, schools and government offices.

Rallies have seen hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets.

Myanmar police arrested at least 27 anti-coup demonstrators in the second-biggest city Mandalay on Tuesday, including a journalist, media organisations said, as protesters defied bans on gatherings amid nationwide dissent against the junta.

A journalist from the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) said he was detained after he was filming the rally. He said people were beaten. Two media organisations also confirmed the arrests. 

 Rubber bullet wounds

 An emergency clinic in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw also known as Naypyidaw treated three patients on Tuesday with wounds suspected of being from rubber bullets, a doctor said.

The doctor, who asked not to be named, told Reuters the clinic provided preliminary treatment before the three plus another patient with head injuries were transferred to a main hospital.

Earlier on Tuesday, police in Naypyitaw fired gunshots into the air to disperse demonstrations against the ruling military, witnesses said.

"They fired warning shots to the sky two times, then they fired (at protesters) with rubber bullets," a resident told AFP, adding that he saw some people injured.

An AFP reporter on the ground confirmed that shots had been fired.

People join a rally against the military coup and to demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 9, 2021.
People join a rally against the military coup and to demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 9, 2021. (Reuters)

Fresh protest

On Tuesday morning, fresh protests emerged in various parts of Yangon, including near the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Suu Kyi.

The protesters carried anti-coup placards including "We want our leader," in reference to Suu Kyi, and "No dictatorship."

In San Chaung township – where large gatherings were specifically banned – scores of teachers marched on the main road, waving a defiant three-finger salute that has become the trademark sign of the protesters.

"We are not worried about their warning. That's why we came out today. We cannot accept their excuse of vote fraud. We do not want any military dictatorship," teacher Thein Win Soe told AFP.

READ MORE: Myanmar junta leader promises free election as anti-coup protests swell

Military promises 

In his televised address, his first since the coup, Min Aung Hlaing insisted the seizure of power was justified because of "voter fraud."

The NLD won last November's national elections by a landslide but the military never accepted the legitimacy of the vote.

Shortly after the coup, the military announced a one-year state of emergency and promised to then hold fresh elections.

Min Aung Hlaing on Monday insisted the military would abide by its promises. He also declared that things would be "different" from the army's previous 49-year reign, which ended in 2011.

"After the tasks of the emergency period are completed, free and fair multi-party general elections will be held according to the constitution," he said.

"The winning party will be transferred state duty according to democratic standards."

But those pledges were accompanied by threats.

In the face of the increasingly bold wave of defiance, the military released a statement on state TV on Monday warning that opposition to the junta was unlawful.

"Action must be taken according to the law with effective steps against offences which disturb, prevent and destroy the state's stability, public safety and the rule of law," said a statement read by an announcer on MRTV.

READ MORE: Mass protests against army coup hit Myanmar for second day

Global outrage 

New Zealand announced the suspension of high-level military and political contacts with Myanmar Tuesday, the first major international move to isolate the country's ruling junta following a military coup.

"Following the military coup, New Zealand is suspending all high-level political and military contact with Myanmar," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters.

The United States has led global calls for the generals to relinquish power, and issued a fresh statement on Monday following the junta's warnings against the protesters.

"We stand with the people of Burma and support their right to assemble peacefully, including to protest peacefully in support of the democratically elected government," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday, using Myanmar's former name.

Price also said US requests to speak to Suu Kyi were denied.

Pope Francis on Monday called for the prompt release of imprisoned political leaders.

"The path to democracy undertaken in recent years was brusquely interrupted by last week's coup d'etat," he told a gathering of diplomats.

"This has led to the imprisonment of different political leaders, who I hope will be promptly released as a sign of encouragement for a sincere dialogue."

The UN Human Rights Council said it would hold a relatively rare special session on Friday to discuss the crisis.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies