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Myanmar activists cancel new year festivities, hold low-key protests

Myanmar activists cancel new year festivities, hold low-key protests

Anti-coup protesters march carrying slogans on pots with flowers as they mark the Thingyan festival on Apr 13, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo)

Opponents of military rule in Myanmar cancelled traditional new year festivities on Tuesday (Apr 13) and instead showed their anger with the country's generals through low-key displays of defiance and small protests across the country.

The five-day New Year holiday, known as Thingyan, is usually celebrated with prayers, 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," said one Twitter user named Shwe Ei.

Women wearing fine clothes for the most important holiday of the year protested in several towns holding traditional pots containing seven flowers and sprigs that are displayed at this time, media pictures showed.

Anti-coup protesters place slogans on pots with flowers as they mark the Thingyan festival on Apr 13, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo)

Many people painted the protesters' three-finger salute on their Thingyan pots.

"People's power, our power," women marching on a street in the main city of Yangon chanted as passers by clapped, video posted by the Myanmar Now media group showed.

In some places, people set out dozens of Thingyan pots daubed with messages such as "Save Myanmar" in silent shows of opposition to the military.

There were no immediate reports of violence at any of the protests but information has become scarce because of the junta's curbs on broadband internet and mobile data services.

This handout photo taken and released by Dawei Watch on Apr 13, 2021 shows protesters carrying pots filled with Thingyan festival flowers and leaves during a demonstration against the military coup in Dawei. (Photo: AFP/Handout Dawei Watch)

Soldiers shot and killed a man and a woman delivering milk on a motorbike in the northwestern town of Tamu, on the border with India, three media outlets reported.

Several small blasts went off in different places, including two in Yangon, but there were no reports of casualties or claims of responsibility.

A spokesman for the junta could not be reached for comment.

CELEBRATION PUT OFF

Activists keen to maintain the momentum of their campaign against the military have called for similar protests throughout the holiday, which runs until Saturday.

This was the second year in a row the new year festivities were called off. Last year, it was because of the novel coronavirus.

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

READ: Myanmar youth fight Internet outages with underground newsletter

READ: Myanmar activists call for New Year defiance

The coup mounted against an elected government on Feb 1 has plunged Myanmar into crisis after 10 years of tentative steps toward democracy.

Opponents of the junta have staged daily protests and workers in many sectors have gone on strike, bringing the economy to a standstill.

The security forces have responded with force, killing 710 protesters since the coup, according to a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

Despite the violence, people return to the streets day after day, demanding an end to military rule and the release of the leader of the ousted government, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

READ: Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi hit with new criminal charge

The military says it had to overthrow her government because a November election again won by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy was rigged. The election commission dismissed the accusation.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, who has led Myanmar's struggle against military rule for decades and who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been detained since the coup and charged with various offences. These include violating a colonial-era official secrets act that alone could see her jailed for 14 years.

Source: Reuters/ga

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