Conflicts & War

Myanmar protests junta with shoes, as celebrity is arrested over support

Update 1: Adds shoe protest, changes headline

Bangkok, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- Rows of shoes adorned with flower bouquets served Thursday to remember the almost 600 dead at the hands of Myanmar’s security forces during demonstrations against the military junta.

“We will never stop walking. The coup must fail,” is one of the messages that accompany the photographs published on social media.

The procession of footwear is the latest idea hatched by the civil disobedience movement to challenge the military, which took power Feb. 1, and avoid the violent response of authorities, who have fired live rounds at unarmed protesters.

In front of the doors and on the balconies of homes, on the street or in other public places, slippers also serve to symbolize the flight of protesters in the face of the repression by security forces.

“How many shoes have been left behind when people run? How many people can no longer march with us? Every step in this revolution, a flower that blooms,” another message read, accompanied by the tag “Save Myanmar.”

In addition to these symbolic demonstrations, protests continued with massive marches in other parts of the country, such as Bago and Mandalay, the second most populous city, according to local media reports, after at least 12 people were shot dead a day earlier by security forces.

The junta arrested the model and actor Paing Takhon on Thursday, accused of inciting violence by showing public support for the protests.

The popular 24-year-old model was arrested early in the morning at his home in Yangon by security forces, his manager Yee Mon Kyaw said.

“He was very ill at this time so we could not transfer him to another place for his safety. Please talk about him and pray for his safety,” the agent said on Facebook.

Paing Takhon, who participated in demonstrations opposing the military and has openly shown supported social media dissenters, is on the list of more than 100 public figures on whom the military junta has recently issued an arrest warrant.

The military accuse these figures, among which are journalists, of trying to destabilize the country through social network messages and propaganda in favor of the group of elected parliamentarians which the military junta deposed during the coup.

Paing Takhon, who had 1.2 million followers on Instagram before his profile was deleted in the last hours, is one of the best-known faces in show business arrested since the military seized power.

On Tuesday, popular Myanmar comedian and actor Zarganar, 60, who had already been a political prisoner during previous governments of the military junta, was arrested on the same charges.

Despite the brutal repression exerted by the police and soldiers, in which at least 598 people have died according to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners – including 12 on Wednesday – the demonstrations against the coup continue throughout the country.

Since the putsch and until Wednesday, authorities had detained at least 3,577 people, of whom 2,847 remain in custody, including deposed head of the government Aung San Suu Kyi, the association said. At least 598 people, dozens of them minors, have lost their lives.

The military justified the coup on alleged electoral fraud during November’s general elections, in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide following polls considered legitimate by international observers. EFE-EPA


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