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Protesters in Myanmar cancel New Year festivities amid fury over coup

This handout photo, taken and released by Dawei Watch on April 13, 2021, shows protesters carrying pots filled with Thingyan festival flowers and leaves during a demonstration against a military coup, in Dawei, Myanmar. (Via AFP)

Opponents of Myanmar’s military coup have canceled traditional New Year festivities and instead staged silent protests to voice their anger at the ruling junta.

Myanmar’s New Year holiday, known as Thingyan, is observed on April 13-17.

The Buddhist festival (aka Water Festival) is usually celebrated with prayers, the ritual cleaning of Buddha images in temples, and high-spirited water-dousing on the streets.

“We do not celebrate Myanmar Thingyan this year since over 700 of our innocent brave souls have been killed,” Reuters cited one Twitter user named Shwe Ei as saying on Tuesday.

Instead, small protests were held in many towns across the country on Tuesday.

Female protesters were seen holding pots containing seven flowers and sprigs that are used during the most important holiday of the year.

Many people painted the three-finger salute used by demonstrators on the traditional pots.

In some areas, people set out tens of Thingyan pots with messages such as “Save Myanmar” written on them in silent shows of opposition to the junta.

Activists have called for similar demonstrations throughout the holiday to maintain the momentum of their campaign.

“We cannot enjoy this year. We will celebrate once we get democracy,” another Twitter user, Su Su Soe, said.

Security forces in Myanmar have been using lethal force to quell weeks of unrest since the coup on February 1.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group, says the crackdown on protests have left 710 protesters dead.

On the day of the coup, the military arrested Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her associates over accusations of voter fraud in favor of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in elections last November.

The military placed commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing in power and pledged to hold fresh elections in a year and hand over power to the winner, but has not set a date for the promised polls.

The military takeover of power has triggered widespread international condemnation.

Myanmar was ruled by the military from 1962 until 2011, when Suu Kyi ended the junta rule.

But her international reputation has been tarnished because she defended a military campaign of genocide against the minority Rohingya Muslim community in 2017.


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