Myanmar's Art Of Defiance

It's nearly one month since Myanmar been in turmoil when the military took control on February 1. The military imprisons Aung San Suu Kyi, who won a landslide victory in last November's election.

The younger generation took it to social media, streets and walls to protest. Projection mapping glowed at nights on buildings in Yangon, Myanmar. Three fingers raised in a rebellious pose, a dove of peace and smiling face of Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The three-fingered salute originates from the Hunger Games film. Since then, this symbol has become the symbol of resistance and solidarity for the democracy movement across South-East Asia, especially in a protest in Thailand. 

Graffiti artists painted three-fingered gestures, messages mocking Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi to Yangon walls in protest. 

A massive mural on the banks of Irrawaddy River, crying out for help.

Netizen spam social media with #WhatIsHappeningInMyanmar to raise awareness on the situations over there. 

Online art collectives have made their designs free so that protesters can print them out for signs, stickers or T-shirts. 

A mosaic of defiance-related images on a website called Art for Freedom.

A mosaic of defiance-related images on a website called Art for Freedom. Image source via artforfreedommm.com

Dancers, rappers also took it to the street to protest against the military coup. “Hip-hop artists already have a culture of revolution, so in our generation, we protested through songs," said Ko Zayar Thaw, a Generative Wave member, a hip-hop collective. “Now, all kinds of artists are involved because they don’t want to lose the value of democracy.”

A hip-hop dancer participating in a group performance to protest against the military dictatorship in Yangon.

A hip-hop dancer was participating in a group performance to protest against the military dictatorship in Yangon. Image source via The New York Times

“If we look at the history of resistance in Myanmar, we were quite aggressive and confrontational, with this history of bloodshed,” said Ko Kyaw Nanda to New York Times, a graphic designer whose protest art contrasts green pig heads (the army) with ruby red heels (Ms Aung San Suu Kyi). “With this new approach, it can be less risky for people, and more people can join.”

Myanmar's military also has since then imprisoned poets, actors, painter and rappers. The military also drastically curbed internet access, but in vain because it was restored the next day. There were reports of military brutalities circulating in social media. 

Today, the "Two Five" general strike against the military rule are growing by the hour in downtown Yangon.

 


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