‘We all know what we’re facing’: divided Myanmar unites against coup

The Myanmar military took power last week on the promise of “restoring eternal peace” to a country riven by seven decades of ethnic conflict. Since the takeover it has made remarkable progress in uniting the deeply divided country against a common enemy: itself. In Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, strangers greet each other with the three-finger salute – a symbol of resistance against the regime – and trucks offer free rides for demonstrators. Neighbours cook chickpea curry in big vats on the streets to dish out to passersby, and volunteers distribute refreshments to keep people hydrated under the hot sun. Protesters of all ages and backgrounds have taken to the streets, including beauty queens, shirtless musclemen, cosplayers and snake owners along with their scaly pets. Marginalised groups have also joined rallies, among them LGBT members who say the mass gatherings present a path for their future acceptance. “People on the marches tell us we should have our rights,” said Min Khant, 21, a Yangon drag queen whose stage name is Walkie Talkie. “They are proud of us. LGBT are protesting in their heels and waving rainbow flags across Myanmar.”