'Humanless protests' gain traction in Myanmar as crackdown casualties climb

·2-min read
Protest against the military coup in Yangon

(Reuters) - In a patch of woodland in Myanmar's western Mon State, trees have been decorated with condoms and portraits of the military junta leader with a sign saying "Min Aung Hlaing's father should have used a condom".

In the city of Mawlamyine, rows of stuffed toys carrying placards with anti-junta signs were carefully arranged across the width of a small street, resembling a rally.

Elsewhere, helium-filled balloons were released on Monday bearing messages calling for international help. Street protesters were replaced by toy cars or dolls, some led by cardboard cutouts or manikins dressed in outfits.

A group of women even swapped crowds for cookware, with each pot, pan or bowl carrying messages like "pray for Myanmar's democracy" and "free our leaders".

These are just some of the small acts of defiance by people in Myanmar to avoid becoming the next victims of an unrelenting crackdown by security forces that has seen deaths and arrests of demonstrators on a daily basis.

At least 250 protesters have been killed since the military's Feb. 1 coup, according to activists, who accuse the junta of using death as a deterrent and being impervious to international criticism.

Hundreds of red balloons were released on Monday near the biggest city Yangon, calling for outside intervention, each attached to signs that said "R2P", or Responsibility to Protect, the global commitment of United Nations members to prevent atrocities.

Other signs tied to the balloons had U.N. logos and the message "How many dead bodies are needed to take action?"

To avoid potentially fatal street confrontations, drivers crawled along Yangon roads on Monday in convoys of cars honking horns while performing three-finger salutes from their windows.

Medical workers in Mandalay marched at dawn in white coats, beating the patrols by security forces that have seen chaos in the streets.

"They protest in all ways that they can. Everyday people come up with creative ways in order to protest," one social media user told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to fears about his safety.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered cross-legged on the ground in Hakha in Chin state on Sunday night at a candle-lit vigils, where they chanted messages denouncing dictatorship.

About 150 km (90 miles) away in the town of Mindat, scores of anti-coup posters were planted in a square in front of the town's market, each saying "the military dictatorship must fail".

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Angus MacSwan)