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Tea Leaves

To laugh or not to laugh on Yangon's mean streets

In post-takeover Myanmar, life goes on despite the background horror

Thingyan revelers celebrate in Yangon: Government atrocities and oppression didn't stop people from letting loose during the New Year water festival. (Photo by Monica Mang)

Just before Myanmar's Thingyan New Year water festival in mid-April, I had finished uploading a Facebook advertisement for my travel business. The ad, promoting New Year tourism packages, was packed with buoyant adjectives and photographs of beaming guests group-hugging and flicking V-shaped peace signs to the camera.

Minutes after it went live, a friend called to tell me the latest news. The Myanmar military had carried out an airstrike on a village in the central Sagaing region, killing more than 130 people. It was perhaps the worst single atrocity since the country's February 2021 military takeover, and my friend thought it would be wise to delete my latest post -- not that I needed persuading.

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