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Pope salutes Myanmar youth as protesters decorate Easter eggs

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A Myanmar migrant living in Thailand holds a portrait of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi while she and others hold up mobile phone lights during a night protest in Chiang Mai on Sunday against the military coup in their homeland. AFP

Pope salutes Myanmar youth as protesters decorate Easter eggs

Anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar decorated boiled eggs on April 4, as Pope Francis in his Easter message expressed solidarity with the country’s youth.

Myanmar has been gripped by turmoil since a February 1 coup ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and derailed the country’s tentative transition to democracy.

Security forces have sought to quell a mass uprising with lethal force and the death toll reached 564 as of late on April 4, according to local monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

On Easter, decorated eggs became the latest emblem of resistance as scores of Myanmar protesters painted political messages on them and left them on neighbours’ doorsteps.

Pictures posted on social media showed eggs adorned with images of Suu Kyi and three-finger salutes – a protest gesture – while others said “save our people” and “democracy”.

A Yangon-based protester said: “I am Buddhist but I have joined this campaign because it is easy to get a hold of eggs. I spent almost one hour decorating my eggs.

“I am praying for Myanmar’s current situation to get back to democracy.”

Delivering his Easter message at the St Peter’s Basilica on April 4, Pope Francis singled out Myanmar youth “committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully, in the knowledge that hatred can be dispelled only by love”.

Myanmar’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Charles Bo, also shared an Easter message on Twitter: “Jesus has risen: Hallelujah – Myanmar will rise again!”

Protesters also hit the streets again on April 4, some carrying flags and riding motorbikes.

In Pyinmana, a town in Naypyidaw region, security forces opened fire on demonstrators.

A resident said: “A man who was in the walking crowd got hit and killed. Another one was also shot.”

A 30-year-old protester was also killed in the early hours of April 4 morning in northern Kachin state.

An eyewitness said: “They shot him at the roadside. He was wounded and died later. They took away his dead body this morning at 6am.”

The military junta insists security forces are “exercising utmost restraint”, as they respond to the protests, state-run newspaper Myawady reported on April 4.

In Pyay, a town in Bago region, people plastered photos of Myanmar children killed since early February on a billboard and on fences.

Total to stay

While foreign companies have faced growing calls to sever ties with the junta, French energy giant Total announced on April 4 that it will not halt gas production in coup-hit Myanmar.

CEO 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 operation of hospitals, businesses?” he told the Journal du Dimanche.

Pouyanne said he was “outraged by the repression” in Myanmar but would refuse to “act to the detriment of our local employees and the Burmese population who are already suffering so much”.

The military-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise has partnerships with Total and US rival Chevron and generates annual revenues of around $1 billion from the sale of natural gas.

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