BANGKOK (AP) – The celebration of Tingyan, Myanmar’s traditional New Year’s Eve, was uncharacteristically quiet on Wednesday as a fierce power struggle between the military government and its opponents overshadowed the usual merriment of playful splashing water.
Opponents of the military, who have widespread support, have called for a boycott of the government-organized celebrations. The armed resistance wing has stepped up the call, warning it could carry out security bombings in Yangon, the country’s largest city. In 2010, at least 10 people were killed in an attack that led the then military government guilty of the opposition group.
But until Wednesday night, the first day of the holidays, there were no serious incidents.
Small nonviolent protests, some online, took place in several places across the country against the army’s takeover last year.
People usually celebrate the holiday of hot steam by pouring, spraying and sprinkling water in large and small gatherings. Many who have moved to the cities for work are returning to their native villages to reunite with family and relatives. The celebration usually lasts a few days and ends this year on Sunday, New Year’s Day.
People also read…
The coronavirus pandemic has held back celebrations for the past two years, as in neighboring Thailand and Cambodia, where similar holidays are celebrated. In Myanmar, the rejection by the army of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi last year further stifled the holiday spirit.
After peaceful mass protests against the seizure of power were suppressed by the army and police, the resistance turned into an armed struggle, and UN experts now characterize Myanmar as a separate civil war. Urban guerrillas are operating in cities, and the military has carried out full-scale offensives against anti-government militias in rural areas to try to destroy the entire opposition.
“It must be shown that during Tingyan people were not silent about their revolution, and that the military council was not allowed to rule at all. We called on the people to celebrate Tingyang with sympathy for the areas being attacked by the military, not for fun or happiness, ”said Nan Lin, leader of the coordinating body of the general strike, a major underground opposition group.
In Yangon, city officials have built three main pavilions in different areas, and state television has broadcast official ceremonies. But residents say there are few people other than those involved in government.
From the messages on social networks, where there are frequent complaints about repressions, power outages and the economic crisis, it was clear that many people are not inclined to celebrate the usual easy holiday.
“I’m not in the mood to participate in this year’s Thingyan. My family has no plans to join the festival at a time when the whole country is bustling about. And this festival is organized by the military council. It’s not fun and safe. I want to stay away from them, ”said Ma Pwint, a Yangon resident.
In Yangon, a city guerrilla coalition called the United Alliance announced that bombings would be carried out in Yangon during Tingyang, and urged people to stay away from events guarded by security forces. Such groups carried out targeted killings of people associated with the military and explosions at institutions with official ties.
Diverse democratic rallies took place on Wednesday, including in the north-central Sagaing region and the southern Tanintari region. Protesters, including Buddhist monks, carried banners with slogans such as “Revolution is not a festival,” “We do not accept merry Tingyang,” and “Revolutionary Tingyang is the true voice of civilians.”
Guerrilla Resistance forces claimed to have attacked security forces in Sahaing, including in the city of Maniva, where the Monywa The Boys group said it had fatally shot a police officer.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.