Thousands take to the streets again as junta releases 23,000 prisoners and detains more opponents overnight

Facebook has imposed widespread restrictions on Myanmars military rulers to prevent them spreading misinformation, as tens of thousands again took to the streets in what was set to be the biggest day of protests against the coup so far.
The social network site said on Friday that it would reduce the distribution of all content and profiles run by Myanmars military, saying the generals have continued to spread misinformation after they seized power and detained civilian leaders in a coup.
The measures were not a ban, Facebook said in a statement, but are aimed at reducing the number of people who see the content and will apply to an official page run by the army and one by a military spokesperson. They would also cover any additional pages that the military controls that repeatedly violate our misinformation policies. The pages would no longer appear on news feeds as recommended.
The social media giant said it had also suspended the ability of Myanmar government agencies to send content-removal requests to Facebook through the normal channels used by authorities across the world.
Simultaneously, we are protecting content, including political speech, that allows the people of Myanmar to express themselves and to show the world what is transpiring inside their country, said Rafael Frankel, Facebooks director of public policy.
Monks in Mandalay protest against the military coup. Photograph: Kaung Zaw Hein/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock
Hundreds of thousands of people have been protesting across Myanmar since the army overthrew the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and detained most top leaders on 1 February.
Friday saw hundreds of separate marches in Yangon alone as people marked the Union day public holiday with what appeared to be the biggest show of defiance since the military takeover.
Witnesses said there were hundreds of separate marches, each with around 2,000 participants, and all converging on focal points such as Hledan, Sule pagoda and the Russian and Chinese embassies. One march consisted of the fans of rival English football teams joining together to vent their anger.
One student protester outside the Russian embassy said: We dont want to join the main rally at Sule pagoda because we are worried the military will go there. The military wont do anything outside an embassy because it will hurt their image so we feel safer here.
Fans of rival football clubs join together to protest in Yangon. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
We hate the military coup. If the military does something stupid, more people will come out.
Anti-coup protesters at Inle Lake, Myanmar. Photograph: Aung Ko San/AP
There were also rallies in many other towns and cities including a boat protest at the tourist hotspot of Inle Lake in Shan state, and a march through the famous ancient temples of Bagan.
The large crowds were expected to swell even more on Saturday because it is the birthday of Aung San, the countrys independence hero and father of detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Quick GuideWhat is happening in Myanmar?
On 1 February Myanmars army took power in a coup against the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. She and other senior party figures were detained in a morning raid. In response, tens of thousands have protested in the streets of Yangon and other cities as part of a growing campaign of civil disobedience. The military have blocked social media platforms in an attempt to stamp out dissent. The United Nations Security Council has called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other ministers detained.
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Fridays public holiday was also marked by the junta ordering the release of more than 23,000 prisoners. Mass amnesties to empty the countrys overcrowded prison system are common on significant local dates.
However Ye Wai Phyo Aung, co-founder of the human rights organisation Athan, said that although many prisoners had been subjected to unjust treatment within the criminal justice system, he worried about the purpose behind the mass pardon.
If the militarys purpose is to create chaos in society, thats brutal, he said. The military should free all arrested protest leaders, protesters, activists and politicians. If the military really want to please people, the only way would be to drop all political power and return to the barracks.
A separate notice said another 55 foreign prisoners would also be freed.
Both orders were signed by junta chief, Gen Min Aung Hlaing. No further details on the released prisoners were given in the announcement.
Meanwhile, security forces carried out another series of arrests overnight, with those detained including at least one doctor who had taken part in an escalating civil disobedience campaign. The detentions included members of the election commission, civil servants who have protested against the coup, politicians and activists.
Hein Min Aung, a prominent astrologer, was arrested reportedly for a Facebook post showing knives circled around a candle. It was a ritual, he wrote, to eliminate forces supporting the dictator.
Among those detained the previous night was one of Aung San Suu Kyis aides, Kyaw Tint Swe; deputy speaker for the lower house of parliament, Tun Tun Hein; and Rakhine state chief minister, Nyi Pu. Protest leaders in Mandalay region and demonstrators in Rakhine state were also detained, according to local media.
Aung San Suu Kyi herself, and other top political figures, were arrested in dawn raids on 1 February, following claims by the military that the November election won by her National League for Democracy (NLD) party was undermined by vote fraud.
Aung San Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since she was detained, though NLD officials have reported that she is in good health.
Her supporters called for tougher international action against the military after Washington announced a first round of sanctions following six days of pro-democracy demonstrations.
We are hoping for more actions than this as we are suffering every day and night of the military coup here in Myanmar, Suu Kyi supporter Moe Thal, 29, told Reuters.
We want to finish this ASAP. We may need more punishment and action against Myanmars acting president and generals.
The coup and the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi along with more than 260 others have prompted the biggest demonstrations since a 2007 Saffron Revolution that ultimately became a step towards now halted democratic change.
Reuters and Agence France Presse contributed to this report