A SIGN, on red spray paint, appeals to the United Nations to exert pressure on Myanmar’s junta to stop excesses against political activists.—AFP
A SIGN, on red spray paint, appeals to the United Nations to exert pressure on Myanmar’s junta to stop excesses against political activists.—AFP

YANGON: Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar sloshed red paint in the streets on Wednesday to symbolise the blood spilled and more than 700 lives lost in a brutal military crackdown.

The country is barely functioning and the economy has stalled since the military seized power from civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1.

The junta has sought to quell mass protests with lethal force and a local monitoring group has verified at least 714 civilian deaths but warns the toll is likely to be even higher.

This week is Myanmar’s New Year festival of Thingyan holiday but normal festivities such as public water fights have been cancelled.

Instead, protesters have been using Thingyan as a rallying point — as bus shelters and pavements were sprayed red on Wednesday in cities and towns.

“The purpose of the ‘bleeding strike’ is to remember the martyrs who died in the struggle for democracy,” a protest participant from Yangon said.

“We should not be happy during this festival time. We have to feel sadness for the martyrs who are bleeding and we must continue to fight this battle in any way we can.”

In Mandalay, red paint was also spilled on the streets amid signs saying: “hope our military dictatorship fails,” “overthrow the era of fear” and “blood has not dried on the streets”.

Protesters spray-painted a pavement scarlet in a Yangon suburb and left a note that read: “Dear UN, How are you? I hope you are well. As for Myanmar, we are dying.”

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2021

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