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Military violence is taking a psychological toll on Myanmar’s anti-coup resistance. New spaces, like a pop-up art therapy centre, are creating opportunities for activists and journalists to discuss their mental health and stay primed for the revolution.

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I had seen photographs of the Myanmar Cartoonists’ Association protesting on the streets of Yangon soon after the coup. They were holding up placards with their cartoon characters giving the three-finger salute. I thought that the best way to show solidarity and support to our colleagues was to draw a selfie giving the same salute so I asked members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation to contribute to a #threefingers social media campaign. This brought us to the attention of the Raise Three Fingers team and we have been in collaboration since then.

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South Korean artists were among the first to join the cause. "Four decades ago, the citizens of Gwangju staged a protest against the military. The photo of a soldier clubbing a protester to death. A young child holding the family tight for protection. It was the sight of Gwangju at that time; it is the sight in Myanmar now" said Im Ah-Yong, an employee of the Gwangju Youth Creative Hub. The group in April launched the Peace Hand Gesture/Three-Fingers Salute workshop to support and express solidarity with the citizens of Myanmar.

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“That morning, I cried,” he remembers. “I felt lost. Some memories of my childhood came back vividly to me. I remember having to pay respect to the generals who came to our school without knowing why I had to. I remember my childhood spent in darkness and fear. Then I immediately thought of my niece and nephew. Will they have a childhood similar to mine? Will they now have to live under the same darkness and fear under the dictatorship? I don’t want that for them.”

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Art As A Weapon

June 1, 2021

Two weeks after the military in Myanmar took power in a coup, a meme began circulating inside the country that riffed off a once-famous Batman and Robin meme.

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Since the 1 February coup in Myanmar, dozens of artists—filmmakers, cartoonists, painters, poets and more—have been detained by the military.

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