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Myanmar: Power Shortage Protests Spread

Power shortages are common during summer in Myanmar but the situation is much worse this year. Power plants can only provide six hours of electricity per day on rotational basis in most of the districts of the two largest cities in the country. The President of the Office of Electricity Supply of Yangon explained that the power shortage is due to a bomb blast that destroyed a transmission tower connected to the Shwe Li Hydropower Station.

The rotating power woes inconvenienced the public which sparked a rare but peaceful protest in Mandalay a few days ago. The protesters lighted candles and displayed posters to deliver their message. CJ Myanmar uploaded photos of the protest on Facebook.

Protest against electricity shortages around City Hall, Yangon. Image from Facebook page of CJMyanmar.

Protest against electricity shortages around City Hall, Yangon. Image from Facebook page of CJMyanmar.

Thant Zin Oo Kse clarified [my] that the actual situation is much worse in Mandalay:

It's not even 6 hours supply and 12 hours shortage, electricity has been supplied only about 6 hours per two days, you can come here if you don't believe it. Even during the scheduled supply period, shortage did occur.

Nyunt Aung posted a sarcastic comment about it:

We are very rich to have “candle-light Dinner” almost everyday.Thank you.

Protests continued the following day and the actions spread to other towns. About 50 participants which included writers, poets, volunteers and members of opposition National League of Democracy were detained for questioning Myanmar's Special Branch Police. However, Hmuu Zaw who identified himself as a civil servant and is believed to be the staff of president's office denied that there was instruction to detain the protesters.

Candle Night in Mdy

No order or directive to detain anyone in this situation.
May be , just asking detailed information only, relating to the concern of violence.

Be cool, and be careful the blackmail behind the people.

All those questioned were released [my] without charge. On 22 May, 2012, there were already police forces in the area where protesters gathered in the last two days, as reported by CJ Myanmar.

The movement reached Yangon where people gathered and protested at Sule Pagoda. Maung Kaung uploaded a video of the protest.

Consumers demanded the resignation of Zaw Min, Minsiter of the Ministry of Electric Power 1, who said [my] that Myanmar's excess power supply should not be used for local needs only since it can be sold to nearby countries. Lay Maung Khin expressed [my] his opinion about the minister in a note [my] of Yeyint Nge.

Dear U (Mr. in Myanmar) Zaw Min, if you cannot perform your duty, resign. If you are not able to be dutiful, you have the responsibility to let others take over your position.

Kaba Phyar also wrote a Facebook status about the Minister:

Don't be down-hearted if you can only say rubbish. You can at least be the Minister of Ministry of Electric Power!

Kyaw Myo Khine commented on Myanmar Netizens Facebook page as well:

Zaw Min has ignored citizens concerns and sold electric power to China. This will not be tolerated and he needs to quit the goverment.

Some are furious at China as well because a huge amount of electricity produced by hydropower plants in Myanmar is sold to China. Sai Kaung Satt Thar pointed out that the reason of destroyed transmission tower is not valid:

The reason and action are too contradictory. 70% of electricity supplied to Yangon is from Law Pi Ta and Ye Ywar hydro-powered stations, those from Shwe Li station go to China, why there should be a shortage of electricity in Yangon? Go and cut China's power!

Aung Myo expressed his anger towards China under the album posted by CJ Myanmar, too:

Don't do anything. It's all empty since China took all electricity supply.

The protests didn't stop at Yangon. The movement spread to the towns of Monywa, Pyi, and Bago which are also suffering from rotating brownouts. There are Myanmar netizens who changed their profile pictures and timeline cover photo with an image of candles in dark background to show support to the protests.

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