Myanmar activists stage symbolic blood protest after killings by military

Red paint thrown on roads and signs in show of defiance against junta

Kate Ng
Wednesday 14 April 2021 14:44
An anti-coup protester uses red paint as he writes slogans at a bus stop in Yangon, Myanmar
An anti-coup protester uses red paint as he writes slogans at a bus stop in Yangon, Myanmar

Activists in Myanmar doused roads and signs outside government offices with red paint on Wednesday to symbolise the blood of people killed while protesting against the recent military coup.

The display took place across the country on the second day of the traditional new year holiday.

Protests have been ongoing since the military staged a coup on 1 February and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on charges, including violating an official secrets act, that could see her imprisoned for 14 years.

People have taken to the streets every day for weeks to call for her release. Her lawyers have denied she is guilty.

There were no immediate reports of violence at any protests that took place on Wednesday, but information is difficult to obtain due to the internet blackout imposed by the military.

More than 700 people have been killed by security forces since the demonstrations began, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma). Some died while taking part in the protests, while others were killed in their own homes.

A five-day Thingyan New Year holiday began on Tuesday, but the usual festivities were cancelled by pro-democracy activists to focus on opposing the generals who seized power.

This handout photo taken and released by Dawei Watch on April 14, 2021 shows protesters carrying flags and a portrait of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi (R) as they march during a demonstration against the military coup in Dawei

The military claims the protests are petering out, but activists have planned different shows of defiance for each day of the holiday, which ends on Saturday.

On Tuesday, the United Nations hgh commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned that the ongoing situation could spark a “full-blown conflict” in Myanmar, on par with Syria’s civil war.

Ms Bachelet appealed for a halt to the “slaughter” and urged countries with influence to “urgently apply concerted pressure” on the military to “halt the commission of grave human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity”.

Small explosions have peppered urban centres in recent days, with two in Monywa city on Wednesday wounding one person, reported the local Monywa Gazette newspaper.

There have been no claims of responsibility for the blasts.

Old conflicts between the military and ethnic minority forces fighting for autonomy in border regions have also been reignited by the coup.

The Myanmar Now media group reported on Tuesday that government forces suffered heavy casualties in an assault on ethnic Kachin forces in the north.

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

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