It has been more than two weeks since demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the military coup in Myanmar early this month. There is no sign of the protests abating - indeed, a civil disobedience movement has wide support across the country and includes stop work action by banking staff, health and railway workers. On Monday, businesses were forced to shut amid a general strike, and demonstrations have continued unabated over the past few days. Up to now, protest rallies have been largely peaceful. While security forces have shown greater restraint than during the 1988 protests - when several thousand people reportedly died - and a feared crackdown has not materialised, the military has taken strong measures. That, regrettably, included the use of live ammunition. Three protesters were killed, two shot by security forces. A policeman also died of injuries sustained in the protests.
The worry is that as protests continue, a brutal and bloody crackdown may occur that could plunge Myanmar into a greater crisis that will be even harder to resolve. That will have deep and prolonged consequences for the nation and the region. While the military junta promises to hold new elections, protesters want nothing less than a recognition of the Nov 8 election result that the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) won resoundingly, and the release from arrest of its leader and State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi.