By Reuters, published by US News & World Report
OPPONENTS of Myanmar’s coup splashed red paint and dye on roads and signs outside government offices today (April 14) to represent the blood of people killed protesting against the junta, on the second day of the traditional new year holiday.
The display aimed at shaming the military took place in various towns and cities, according to pictures posted by media, as people answered a call by activists to join what they termed a bloody paint strike.
Some people marched with signs calling for the release of the leader of the ousted government, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been detained since the Feb. 1 coup on various charges including violating an official secrets act that could see her imprisoned for 14 years.
Her lawyers have denied the charges against her.
“Please save our leader – future – hope,” read a sign with a picture of Suu Kyi held by a young woman among several thousand people marching in the second city of Mandalay, according to a picture published by the Mizzima news service.
There were no immediate reports of violence at any of the protests today, but information has become scarce because of the junta’s curbs on broadband internet and mobile data services.
The coup has plunged Myanmar into crisis after 10 years of tentative steps toward democracy with daily protests and various campaigns of defiance including strikes by workers in many sectors that have brought the economy to a standstill.
The five-day New Year holiday, known as Thingyan, began yesterday but pro-democracy activists cancelled the usual festivities, which include high-spirited water throwing in the streets, to focus on their opposition to the generals who seized power.
The military says the protests are petering out. Activists have planned different shows of defiance every day over the holiday, which ends on Saturday.
An activist group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, says the security forces have killed 710 protesters since the ouster of Suu Kyi’s government.
The United Nations human rights office said yesterday it feared that the military clampdown on the protests risked escalating into a civil conflict like that seen in Syria and appealed for a halt to the “slaughter”.
Small blasts have been going off in different towns over recent days, adding to a sense of fear and crisis, with two explosions in the central city of Monywa today wounding one person, the Monywa Gazette reported.
There have been no claims of responsibility.
The coup has also rekindled hostilities in old conflicts between the military and ethnic minority forces fighting for autonomy in border regions.
Government forces suffered heavy casualties in an assault on ethnic Kachin forces in the north, the Myanmar Now media group reported.
A spokesman for the junta could not be reached for comment.
Top: Myanmar police seen shooting a 38 mm grenade launcher at protesters during a demonstration against the military coup. Photo: © Theint Mon Soe/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images and published by MSN News
Home Page: People march during a protest against the military coup in Dawei, Myanmar yesterday, April 13, 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Dawei Watch/via Reuters and published by US News & World Report
(Reporting by Reuters staff, writing by Robert Birsel; editing by Jane Wardell)