Protesters decorate Easter eggs in coup-stricken Myanmar

Myanmar anti-coup protesters decorated hard-boiled eggs on Easter Sunday in the latest protest against the country’s military junta.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the February 1 coup that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Security forces have sought to quell a mass uprising with lethal force, with the death toll reaching 557 on Saturday, according to local watchdog group Assistance Association for Political Prisonniers (AAPP).

To coincide with Easter Sunday, many Burmese protesters decorated eggs with political messages and left them on neighbors’ doorsteps and hung in bags at front doors. Photos posted on social media showed eggs adorned with Suu Kyi’s likeness and three-fingered greetings – a symbol of resistance – while others said “save our people” and “democracy.”

“I am a Buddhist but I joined this campaign because it is easy to get eggs. I spent almost an hour decorating my eggs, ”an egg decorator based in Yangon told AFP. “I pray that the current situation in Myanmar returns to democracy.”

A Facebook group promoting the egg protest urged people to respect Christian traditions on Easter Sunday. Myanmar’s oldest Catholic, Cardinal Charles Bo, posted an Easter message on Twitter: “Jesus is Risen: Hallelujah – Myanmar will rise again!” Early bird protesters also took to the streets of Mandalay on Sunday, some carrying flags and riding motorcycles. Their protest came after four protesters were killed on Saturday in the towns of Bago and Monywa.

In the town of Pyay, in the Bago region, people have pasted photos of Burmese children killed since early February on the town’s notice board and on fences around neighborhoods. A 30-year-old protester was killed in the early hours of Sunday morning in a small town in Kachin state. “They shot him on the side of the road. He was injured and later died. They took his body away this morning at 6 am, ”an eyewitness told AFP.

The military junta insists the security forces “show the utmost restraint” as they face the protests, state newspaper Myawady reported on Sunday.

Total to stay

As foreign companies are increasingly called upon to sever ties with the junta, French energy giant Total announced on Sunday that it would not end gas production in the coup-hit Myanmar. State. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said Total has a duty to stay the course.

“Can a company like Total decide to cut off the electricity supply to millions of people – and in so doing, disrupt the functioning of hospitals and businesses?” he said to the Journal du Dimanche. Pouyanne said he was “outraged by the repression” in Myanmar but that he would refuse “to act to the detriment of our local employees and the Burmese population who are already suffering so much”.

Italian fashion brand Benetton and Swedish retailer H&M have suspended all new orders from Myanmar, while French electricity group EDF has suspended operations, including a $ 1.5 billion project to build a dam hydroelectric. The unrest – backed by a widespread government strike – crippled Myanmar’s economy, leaving gas exports as one of the junta’s main sources of income.

The military-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise has partnerships with Total and its US rival Chevron and generates annual revenue of around $ 1 billion from the sale of natural gas. Total paid around $ 230 million to Burmese authorities in 2019 and $ 176 million in 2020 in taxes and “production rights,” according to the company’s financial statements.

The company has yet to pay taxes – worth around $ 4 million a month – to the junta because the banking system has ceased to function, Pouyanne said. But he said Total had rejected calls to put the taxes in an escrow account, saying it could put local managers at risk of arrest or imprisonment.

No more arrests

At least 2,658 civilians are being held across the country, according to the AAPP. Over the weekend, Burmese authorities issued arrest warrants for 40 celebrities – most of whom are in hiding. Two sisters – Shine Ya Da Na Pyo and Nay Zar Chi Shine – who spoke to a CNN correspondent on Friday were also arrested, along with another relative.

Local media reported they gave a three-fingered salute – a symbol of opposition to the junta – when addressing CNN. “We urge the authorities to obtain information about this and to safely release all detainees,” a CNN spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, ten rebel groups held online discussions on the Myanmar crisis on Saturday, stoking fears that a broader conflict could erupt in a country long plagued by fighting between the military and ethnic armies.

The country’s 20 or so ethnic armed groups control large swathes of territory, mostly in border areas. Last week, the junta declared a month-long ceasefire with ethnic armed groups.