Myanmar protest closes roads in 'largest rally yet' since military coup

Protesters closed down roads in the centre of Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday (February 17) in what organisers said was the biggest rally since the military coup. Footage from the centre of the former capital shows thousands of people gathering as they called for the release of toppled leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The march came as thousands of drivers blocked roads as part of the "Civil Disobedience Movement" attempt to cripple infrastructure and force army chiefs to back down. One protester said: "People have realised that the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) is the only way to defeat the military government." Protests have erupted following the brutal military coup on February 1, which saw the well-like Nobel Peace Prize Laurette Aung Sang Suu Kyi detained alongside other civilian politicians. On Tuesday, villagers in Mawlamyine, formerly Moulmein, held up a passing train. Villagers in Moulmein, 300km southeast of Rangoon, now called Yangon, said the blockage was part of the 'Civil Disobedience Movement' which has spread amid calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released. Protesters are now urging government employees to strike and bring the country to a halt to prevent the army from consolidating power. Hard-line military chiefs seized power with force on February 1 and have reacted with brutal crackdowns, blasting locals with water cannon, firing gunshots, closing communications and enforcing curfews. Army chiefs last week reacted to the mass protests by closing Internet and phone connections across the capital. They then blasted protesters with water cannon and fired warning gunshots. International pressure on Myanmar has grown, with US Democrat politicians warning of sanctions on the country. Burma was governed by Britain from 1824 to 1948, during which time it became the second-wealthiest country in Southeast Asia but following independence was ruled by the military until 2011 when democratic reforms began. It changed its name to Myanmar.