#FlowerStrike and #RedLipsSpeakTruthtoPower put Myanmar women in the center of the Spring Revolution

Women, wearing red lipstick and flowers, hold on three finger salute in London to protest against Myanmar military regime on June 19th, birthday of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and International Day of the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. (Twitter)
Women, wearing red lipstick and flowers, hold on three finger salute in London to protest against Myanmar military regime on June 19th, birthday of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and International Day of the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. (Twitter)

On Saturday, supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar and around the world wore flowers to defy the Myanmar military and mark the 76th birthday of deposed State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who has remained behind bars since the Myanmar military took power on Feb. 1.

Suu Kyi is facing multiple politically-motivated charges, including corruption, violating COVID-19 restrictions, and breaking national security and import laws. If convicted, she may be imprisoned for life.

On Monday, Suu Kyi’s lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters that she was grateful for the birthday wishes after she appeared in a scheduled court hearing, according to AFP

Thousands from Myanmar, Nigeria, Indonesia, the UK, Ukraine, Colombia, and Bangladesh also participated in the #RedLipsSpeakTruthtoPower campaign organized by the #Sisters2Sisters Movement, in a show of global feminist solidarity with the ongoing pro-democracy movement in Myanmar.

In a press statement, Thinzar Shunlei Yi, founder of the #Sisters2Sisters movement, highlighted how we must rely on global networks of solidarity to fight against authoritarian regimes.

“In just the past year, women in Myanmar, Belarus, Colombia, Palestine and Nigeria have faced repression, persecution, and imprisonment for their leadership and their protest of authoritarian rule. The determination of these women and our collective goal to raise and hold their perpetrators to account is at the heart of the Red Lips Speak Truth to Power Campaign,” Yi said in a statement.

“To me, [the] #Sisters2Sisters campaign highlights the fighting spirit of Myanmar women, not just those from the Spring Revolution but also those from marginalized communities who had historically fought against the regime,” #Sisters2Sisters organizer Kant Kaw told Coconuts Yangon.

June 19 falls on both Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday and the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. #Sisters2Sisters organizers said they wanted to focus on the struggles of political prisoners, especially victims of sexual violence and said that the date was merely a coincidence. 

However, some participated in both campaigns at the same time, donning red lipstick and carrying a flower in their hair or their hands in a show of solidarity with victims of sexual violence as well as a celebration of Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday, who remains a popular figure in the democracy movement.

Men were also encouraged to participate in the #Brothers2Sisters campaign by wearing red lipstick to show support for their imprisoned sisters in Myanmar.

“S2S had always hoped [for the] #RedLipstickCampaign to transcend gender boundaries. Red lipstick makes everyone look so pretty,” Kant Kaw added.

Protestors took to the streets across Myanmar carrying flowers in direct defiance to the military junta. Some were arrested for staging peaceful protests calling for the end of military rule. In one case, restaurant workers were arrested for handing flowers to customers.

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