Protesters paint streets red

Fighting symbol: Protesters painting the symbols of the three-finger salute on the ground with red paint in Shwebo. — AFP

Anti-coup protesters sloshed red paint in the streets 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 leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1.

The military 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 yesterday in cities and towns nationwide.

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

“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 red 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.”

The military says the protests are petering out. Activists have planned different shows of defiance every day over the holiday, which ends on Saturday.

The coup has plunged Myanmar into crisis after 10 years of tentative steps toward democracy with daily protests and strikes by workers in many sectors that have brought the economy to a standstill.

The United Nations human rights chief warned on Tuesday that Myanmar could be spiralling towards a “full-blown” Syrian-style conflict. — Agencies

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