Image credits: AP
After last year’s water festival or Thingyan in Myanmar was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year for the second consecutive time, the Southeast Asian country will not witness the usual water pistols and an enthusiastic crowd as the nation is rocked with anti-coup protests. As the Myanmar military continues its violent clampdown on pro-democracy protests in the country following the February 1 coup, Myanmar’s traditional Buddhist holiday period that runs from April 13 to April 16 has been disrupted. This year, the joyous period will be overwritten with the grim situation as hundreds of demonstrators have been killed in the protests and darkened the mood for 2021.
Tomorrow Is First Day Of Thingyan (Water) Festival.— MyatnoeThet (@ChenMyatnoe) April 12, 2021
Every Year, We celebrate Thingyan as welcoming Myanmar new year. But This year, We all agree not to celebrate The New Year Festival Due to loss of Democracy.#Apr12Coup#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/tXyc3Hu4JY
As per reports, doctors in Myanmar had hoped last year that by 2021 the rolls out COVID-19 vaccines would have changed the picture of Thingyan and the celebrations. However, the junta overthrew the civilian government on February 1 and placed the elected leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. Usually, the water festival in Myanmar is celebrated with modern and traditional music concerts including dancing, DJs and people in soaked clothes.
Earlier this month, Myanmar protesters sprayed red paint on the roads on April 6 to remind the military that it had blood on its hands as they witnessed no end to the crisis created by the coup in near future. Even at the time, several groups had called for a boycott of the Thingyan Water Festival that marks the Buddhist new year. Leaflets were reportedly distributed in Yangon calling for the ban as a sign of compassion for the families of those who were killed in the months-long protests.
As per reports at least 700 people have died since the coup in February and the junta has also arrested thousands of people with several still in detention. Advocacy group the Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said on April 6 that about four-fifths of the arrested protesters were still in detention. While demonstrators sprayed messages in red paint in Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, one message read, “The blood has not dried.”
@YourAnonCentral @TostevinM @MayWongCNA— Gigi (@gigichothin2008) April 12, 2021
Revolution Thingyan 2021 (Myanmar new year) Famous water festival
April 13 Atar pot strike
April 14 Bloody strike
April 15 Car/ motorcycle/ trailer/ tri cycles strike
April 16 Silence strike
JUNTA MASSACRE#WhatsHapppeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/YohY5WvIdN
Myanmar doctors are under fire for providing aid to the wounded anti-coup protesters as the junta sets ‘traps.’ As per The Guardian report, it is a grimly familiar story for medics to discover an injured demonstrator but as they proceed to help, residents warn of them of soldiers waiting nearby.
As per the report, for instance, when Htet Htet Win and her husband returned home late on Sunday night in Mandalay, the security forces opened fire. While the husband managed to get away, a grainy photograph was taken at the scene reportedly showed Win lying face down on the concrete.
Doctors reportedly believed that she was alive but couldn’t save her as residents warned the medics against reaching out to Win as one of the rescuers said that it "felt like they were ambushing us" before noting that they would have saved Win "if we were able to pick het up as soon as it happened". However, they waited for the soldiers to disperse and till then it was too late.