11 July 2024

Bangkok – Hundreds of protesters screamed and wept as they demonstrated against Myanmar’s junta in Thailand’s capital on Thursday, the third anniversary of an army coup that ended the country’s brief spell of democracy.

Young and old gathered outside the United Nations headquarters in Bangkok, wearing T-shirts showing jailed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with white flowers in their hair and red bandanas on their foreheads.

While Yangon’s streets were quiet, in Bangkok around 300 protesters — eyed by Thai police — shouted anti-junta slogans and trampled bloodied images of Myanmar army leader Min Aung Hlaing.

Fake blood dripping from his head, clutching a sprig of green leaves, protester Tum Tum staged a dramatic performance representing a student killed by the army.

“We are here to protest because the military has been killing people,” he told AFP, his shirt wet with bright fake blood.

His demonstration drew livestreaming supporters, as banners behind him read: “We will fight until the end for this revolution, no rest.”

Tum Tum said his family remained in Myanmar, “but they are not afraid”.

“We do not want to give in,” he added.

Red flags snapped in the breeze, bringing some relief on a sweltering day to demonstrators who repeatedly raised the three-fingered salute that has become a symbol of anti-coup demonstrations.

“I have no home left as it burned down,” 29-year-old Kove told AFP, describing how military jets had bombed his people.

– ‘At a loss’ –

The military is facing its toughest challenge since seizing power in 2021, with a coalition of armed ethnic minority groups making gains in the north — galvanising other armed opponents of the junta.

As the military has lost ground, it has stepped up its air assaults, with civilians frequently among the casualties.

More than 4,400 people have been killed in the military’s crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.

“It’s really hard for us. I am at a loss for words,” Kove said.

While he has been in Thailand for eight years, he said it was important for those abroad to keep fighting.

As he spoke, the crowd behind him roared, again and again, “GO PDF, GO PDF!”, referencing the armed “People’s Defence Forces”.

For Kay Thwe Khaing, who was with her two five-year-old nieces, there was no anger — but tears for all that her country had lost.

“I want him (junta leader Min Aung Hlaing) to step down today. Many died because of him,” the 32-year-old told AFP.

“I want him to stop now. This is enough.”

by Agence France-Presse