Students mount protest campaign during water festival in Mon State

Mon 20 Apr 2009, Mon Son, IMNA
Students in Mon State lead a bandana campaign to protest rule by Burma’s military government during last week’s water festival. According to a protest organizer, over a thousand bandanas bearing the slogan, in English, “No free, no happy” were distributed in three townships.

On April 15th, protest organizers distributed 1,500 bandanas to residents of Moulmein, Mon State’s capital city, and nearby Mudon and Thanbyuzayat Townships. The campaign fell on the mid-point of Burma’s “Thingyin” New Years festival, when people across the country took days off to throw water on each other, sing and dance.

“The reason we distributed this bandana: we want people know, if we don’t have freedom we also will not have happiness,” one of the organizers told IMNA. “Because we are living under military control, we have no freedom – no freedom of speech, no freedom of expression.”

Moulemin residents told IMNA they saw many youth on trucks and cars wear the bandana. A youth in Mudon Town agreed, but added that some of his friends did not know what the English-language slogan meant.

“I saw many people wearing the bandana during the festival,” said the youth. “Some of my friends didn’t know what the slogan meant. And it was free. But for other people, they knew what it means but they were still not afraid to wear it.”

IMNA has not received any reports of arrests related to the campaing. Prior to Thingyin, state-run television in Burma announced that people were prohibited from wearing “political” clothing.

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