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Lungi barricade aganist Myanmar junta

Published : Sunday, 7 March, 2021 at 5:02 PM  Count : 642

A barricade of longyi, a traditional clothing widely worn in Myanmar, stretches across a street on Thursday during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon. AFP-JIJI

A barricade of longyi, a traditional clothing widely worn in Myanmar, stretches across a street on Thursday during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon. AFP-JIJI


Sarong-like cloths strung out on lines may seem innocuous, but long-held superstitions around women’s clothes appear to have stopped security forces in their tracks as they move to quell an uprising against Myanmar’s junta.

The country has been in uproar since the military ousted the civilian government and seized power on Feb. 1, triggering mass protests that the junta has sought to quash with increasingly lethal force.

They have used tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and sometimes even live rounds against protesters, who are responding with imaginative tactics of their own.

The latest involves hanging women’s undergarments and long skirts — or Lungis — on a clothesline across the street.

According to old Myanmar traditions, women’s lower parts and the garments that cover them can sap power — known as “hpone” — from men.

“If they go under a women’s Lungi, that means their hpone is destroyed,” activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi said.

Some soldiers are unwilling to touch a women’s Lungi for fear that it could hurt their chances on the front lines.

“When the community hang the Lungi above the rope, (police and soldiers) can’t go in the streets, they can’t cross it, and they have to take it down,” said Thinzar Shunlei Yi, reports The Japan Times.

Women are now wielding the superstition as a defensive strategy.

Swooping clotheslines of longyis and knickers have suddenly decorated Yangon, from the buzzing San Chaung township to the city’s rural outskirts, where pictures shared on Facebook showed a soldier standing atop a truck to remove one.

Some of the Lungis also have images of junta leader Min Aung Hlaing’s face pasted on them, in a further superstitious ploy.

He features prominently on posters plastered onto the ground across the commercial hub — protesters believe it could slow security forces reluctant to step on his portrait.

Yangon has completely transformed since the coup.

Massive makeshift barricades are now commonplace, with communities stacking bricks, old tires, tables and barbed wire to prevent authorities from entering their districts.

GY




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