Myanmar coup architect's birthday celebrated with mock funerals, curses, protests

People set a coffin on fire during a mock funeral for Min Aung Hlaing to mark his 65th birthday on Saturday. Photo and caption from The Irrawaddy. Used with permission.

This article was originally published in The Irrawaddy, an independent news website in Myanmar. This edited version is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

His name was scrawled on coffins at mock funerals across the country. People shouted wishes for his death. Myanmar’s poker-faced coup leader's image stared out from bonfires, engulfed in flames.

This is how Myanmar people marked the birthday of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who turned 65 on July 3. In other words, it was the way they vented their simmering hatred of the General for seizing power from the country’s democratically elected government five months ago, and for his forces’ lethal response to the popular protests against the coup.

Conversely, on June 19 Myanmar citizens at home and abroad marked the 76th birthday of the country's elected leader, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained by Min Aung Hlaing since the coup.

The celebrations for Aung San Suu Kyi stand in stark contrast to those witnessed on Saturday, July 3. For the State Counselor’s birthday, smiles and flowers were everywhere. People prayed for her good health and speedy release. Facebook was flooded with pictures of people wearing or holding flowers to show solidarity with their leader, who is known for wearing flowers. One user wrote: “Come Back, Mom…Revolutionary flowers are now in bloom.”

According to one of her lawyers, Aung San Suu Kyi received the greetings with pleasure and thanked the people for her birthday celebrations and wished them good health.

On Saturday, activists in Yangon placed fans at bus stops as part of a mock funeral for Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. (It is a common practice to distribute fans at Buddhist funerals). Young people staged flash mob protests, vowing to take revenge for his brutality toward protesters.

In Mandalay, people set afire coffins bearing the General's name, along with pictures of him, in the streets, cursing him and calling for his speedy death. Others declared that due the misery he has brought to the country since the coup, he should have been stillborn, and some went as far as to show their hatred by urinating on pictures of the General.

On Facebook, people posted pictures of themselves holding placards with their “birthday wishes” for Min Aung Hlaing. One sign read: “May you die in haste!”

In Ayeyarwady Region, villagers sent the message: “May your birthday be your death day!”

For Min Aung Hlaing and his wife Daw Kyu Kyu Hla, who are both reputed to be highly superstitious, the people’s reaction on Saturday was likely to have made them quite uncomfortable.

Until this year, few in the country would have had any interest in the General's birthday. Were it not for the coup and his deadly response to the protesters, there would have been no mock funerals for him on Saturday July 3.

The General's predecessor as dictator, Than Shwe, was the subject of similar protests, but largely by activists in exile—not in the nationwide denunciation that Min Aung Hlaing is facing today.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.