YANGON – Anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar, adept at finding themes to tie together protests nationwide, took to the streets holding painted eggs in a nod to the Easter holiday on Sunday.
In the biggest city of Yangon, one group marched through the Insein district chanting and singing protest songs and cradling eggs bearing the slogan “Spring Revolution.” Many of the eggs also bore a drawing of the three-fingered salute, a symbol of resistance to the Feb. 1 coup.
At dawn in Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, demonstrators gathered on motorbikes to shout protests against the power grab that overthrew the democratically elected government.
Myanmar’s military has violently cracked down on protesters and others in opposition, with the latest civilian death toll since the coup at 557, according to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. More than 2,750 people have been detained or sentenced, the group said.
On Sunday, security forces opened fire on a crowd of protesters in Pyinmana in central Myanmar, killing at least one person, local news outlet Khit Thit Media reported.
Pope Francis, in his Easter Sunday address at St. Peter’s Basilica, prayed for the “young people of Myanmar committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully, in the knowledge that hatred can be dispelled only by love.”
Sunday’s so-called “Easter Egg Strike” follows other themed days. They included a “Flower Strike,” in which protesters laid flowers in public places to honor those killed by security forces, and a “Silent Strike,” in which people across the country left the streets deserted.
Dr. Sasa, the Myanmar special envoy to the U.N. who goes by one name, posted an image of painted eggs on Twitter and wrote that Myanmar's people have a “great future in federal democracy,” reflecting hopes for the military to step down and reinstate a democratic system.
Security forces have continued to spread fear among ordinary citizens. Overnight, a resident of Yangon recorded video of a group of soldiers and police using sling shots to fire stones at the windows of homes, breaking the night's silence. At other times, soldiers and police keep up their intimidation at night with raids on neighborhoods, during which they shout abuse, shoot at random, make arrests and vandalize property.
On Saturday, police opened fire killing several protesters in Monywa in central Myanmar and elsewhere.
With most of the internet access cut or severely restricted by the junta, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people in Myanmar to get images of their plight to the outside world.
After weeks of overnight internet cutoffs, the military on Friday shut all links apart from those using fiberoptic cable, which was working at drastically reduced speeds. Access to mobile networks and all wireless — the less costly options used by most people in the developing country — remained blocked on Sunday.