(Reuters) – Proponents of military rule in Myanmar wrote protest messages on Easter Sunday Sunday while others were back on the streets, facing security forces after a night of candlelight vigils for hundreds killed by a handful. state 1 February. .
In the latest in a series of improvised displays of disregard, messages including We Must Win and Exit MAH – referring to junta leader Min Aung Hlaing – were seen on eggs in photos on social media.
Easter is about the future and the people of Myanmar have a bright future in a federal democracy, Dr Sasa, the international envoy for the ousted civilian government, said in a statement. Sasa is a member of the Christian minority in the predominantly Buddhist country.
Opponents of military rule have been waging a campaign of civil disobedience since the military overthrew the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which has included creative challenge displays promoted on social media.
Young people in the main city of Yangon distributed eggs carrying protest messages, the photos in the posts showed.
Crowds have taken to the streets day and night to refuse the return of military rule after a decade of tentative steps toward democracy. Numerous candlelight vigils took place overnight.
The Association for the Relief of Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group that monitors casualties and arrests, said the death toll had risen to 557 by late Saturday.
Several thousand people took to the second town of Mandalay, some on foot, others on motorcycles, to show their opposition, according to images on social media, before police and soldiers moved to disperse them.
Protesters also gathered in several other cities in the northern, central and southern areas.
Police and a junta spokesman did not respond to calls for comment.
The AAPP said 2,658 people were in custody, including four women and a man who spoke with a visiting CNN news team in interviews on the streets of Yangon’s main city last week.
A CNN spokesman said the network was aware of reports of bans following the teams’ visit. “We are pressuring the authorities for information about this and for the safe release of every detainee,” he said.
The military, in launching its campaign to stifle dissent, has ordered internet providers to cut off the wireless band, depriving most customers of access.
Authorities have issued arrest warrants for nearly 40 celebrities known for opposing martial law, including social media influencers, singers and models, under a law against inciting dissent in the armed forces.
The charges, reported in the state-of-the-art news bulletin on Friday and Saturday evening television, could carry a three-year prison sentence.
One of the defendants, blogger Thurein Hlaing Win, told Reuters he was shocked when he saw himself called a criminal and hid.
I did nothing wrong or bad. I stood on the side of truth, he said by phone from an undisclosed location. If I am punished for this, my conscience is clear. My beliefs will not change. Everyone knows the truth.
The military led the former British colony with an iron fist after taking power in a 1962 coup until it began withdrawing from civilian politics a decade ago, freeing Suu Kyi from years of house arrest and allowing elections that her party included in 2015 .
He says he had to overthrow the government of Suu Kyis because the November elections, again easily won by her party, were rigged. The election commission has denied the allegation.
But many in Myanmar, especially young people who have reached the age of last decade of openness, cannot accept the return of rule by the generals.
Suu Kyi is in custody facing charges that could carry up to 14 years in prison. Her lawyer says the allegations have been defamed.
The coup has also sparked clashes with ethnic minority forces seeking autonomy that have announced support for the pro-democracy movement.
The Karen National Union, which signed a ceasefire in 2012, has seen the first military airstrikes on its forces in more than 20 years and says it must fight to defend itself from a government offensive.
The group said more than 12,000 villagers had fled their homes due to the airstrikes.
Fighting has also erupted in the north between the army and ethnic Kachin insurgents. The riots have sent several thousand refugees fleeing to Thailand and India.
The Suu Kyis party has pledged to establish a federal democracy, the main demand of minority groups.
Reporting by Reuters staff; Written by Robert Birsel; Edited by William Mallard and Kenneth Maxwell
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