To show their support for the nearly 200 students surrounded by security forces, thousands defied the night curfew and took to the streets of Rangoon, the country’s largest city.
“There were a lot of people who provided free trips and people welcomed the protesters,” the young activist Shar Ya Moon told Reuters by phone after she managed to leave her hiding place.
Sound shots and grenades
They barricaded themselves in a house of 15 to 20 people, in an attempt to flee the police, who threatened with sharp bullets and grenades to move from door to door in the residential area and punish the residents who were exposed by hiding the protesters.
According to a human rights organization, about 50 people were arrested in police raids in the area overnight.
At 5 a.m. local time, the protesters were able to leave their shelters, after the police withdrew, according to an activist on social media.
The United Nations called for calm
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and several Western countries had previously called on the junta to allow protesters to leave the area in a quiet and safe manner.
“Many of the detainees marched peacefully to celebrate International Women’s Day,” said Gautier’s spokeswoman, Stephane Dujarric.
The security forces forcibly suppressed the ongoing protests against the military junta, which seized power in a coup on February 1 and ousted the elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
On Monday, at least three people were shot dead and more than 60 people were said to have been killed since the army took power. Nearly 1,800 people have been arrested.