US suspends trade pact with Myanmar and UN chief Antonio Guterres is calling for a united global front to put pressure on the junta to end its atrocities.

Demonstrators hide behind a barricade during protests against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar March 28, 2021.
Demonstrators hide behind a barricade during protests against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar March 28, 2021. (Reuters)

Myanmar protesters have held overnight candle-lit vigils after an advocacy group said security forces had now killed at least 510 people since the February 1 coup.

On Tuesday, activists launched a new civil disobedience campaign to hurl garbage onto the streets.

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

Security forces in the area fired a much heavier-calibre weapon than usual on Monday to clear a barricade of sand bags, witnesses said. 

It was not immediately clear what type of weapon was used.

In a new tactic, protesters sought to step up a civil disobedience campaign on Tuesday by asking residents to throw garbage onto streets on key road intersections.

"This garbage strike is a strike to oppose the junta," read a poster on social media.

The move comes in defiance of calls issued via loudspeakers in some neighbourhoods of Yangon on Monday urging residents to dispose of garbage properly.

READ MORE: Explained: the coup in Myanmar and its political ramifications

International response

Washington suspended a trade pact with Myanmar and UN chief Antonio Guterres called for a united global front to put pressure on the junta to end its atrocities after more than 100 protesters were killed in a bloody weekend of violence.

Guterres urged the Myanmar authorities to undertake a "serious democratic transition".

"It is absolutely unacceptable to see violence against people at such high levels, so many people killed," Guterres told a news conference.

"We need more unity... (and) more commitment from the international community to put pressure in order to make sure that the situation is reversed," he said.

US President Joe Biden's administration announced that the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which laid out ways to boost business but was not a fully fledged deal, would remain suspended until democracy is restored.

"The United States strongly condemns the Burmese security forces' brutal violence against civilians," US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said, using Myanmar's former name of Burma.

The statement effectively removes Myanmar from the Generalised System of Preferences, in which the United State grants duty-free access to some imports from developing nations if they meet key standards.

France condemned the violence as "blind and deadly" and China added its voice to a chorus of international concern on Monday, calling for restraint from all sides.

The Kremlin said it was "very concerned" by growing civilian casualties, despite acknowledging it was building ties with the military authorities.

The US, Britain and the EU have all imposed sanctions in response to the coup and crackdown, but so far diplomatic pressure has not persuaded the generals to ease off.

READ MORE: World leaders condemn Myanmar junta's killing of anti-coup protesters

Rebel groups warn military

At least 510 civilians had been killed in nearly two months of efforts to stop protests, advocacy group AAPP said.

The total killed on Saturday, the bloodiest day so far, had risen to 141, its figures showed.

One of the main groups behind the protests, the General Strike Committee of Nationalities, called on Monday in an open letter for ethnic minority forces to help those standing up to the "unfair oppression" of the military.

In a sign that the call may be gaining more traction, three groups in a joint letter on Tuesday called on the military to stop killing peaceful protesters and resolve political issues.

The groups, which include the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Arakan Army and Ta’ang National Liberation Army, warned if the military did not do this they "will cooperate with all nationalities who are joining Myanmar's spring revolution in terms of self defence."

Heavy clashes erupted on the weekend near the Thai border between the army and fighters from Myanmar's oldest ethnic minority force, the Karen National Union (KNU).

About 3,000 villagers fled to Thailand when military jets bombed a KNU area after a KNU force overran an army outpost and killed 10 soldiers, an activist group and media said.

READ MORE: Consistent anti-coup rallies leave Myanmar's junta outclassed

Source: TRTWorld and agencies