Young activists stage masked anti-nationalist rally in Yangon

A few dozen young activists staged a short but dramatic rally in Yangon yesterday to protest discrimination against Myanmar’s religious minorities.

Clad in masks to avoid reprisals, the group of about 25 shouted slogans against fascism and extreme nationalist rhetoric as they walked near Hledan junction.

One participant made a speech from his wheelchair, saying: “We will never accept discrimination, and we will keep fighting against it.”

An activist speaks out against discrimination during a rally in Yangon on April 25. Photo: Aung Naing Soe / Coconuts Yangon

Protesters carried signs bearing anti-racism slogans. Photo: Aung Naing Soe / Coconuts Yangon

The speaker cited recent episodes of anti-Muslim sentiment in Yangon, where earlier this month nationalist Buddhist monks violently kicked Muslim vendors out of Shwedagon Pagoda.

Members of the Patriotic Monks Union seized products from a handful of vendors who sold belts, pots and mobile phone accessories.

A few days later, a Muslim taxi driver was allegedly beaten with iron rods for driving past the pagoda, Myanmar’s holiest Buddhist site.

Relations between some segments of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and Muslim minority have been strained since intercommunal violence broke out in parts of the country in 2013.

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