Regime bans horseplay and critics from festival

Apr 6, 2009 (AFP), The Burmese government has called for people attending the upcoming New Year celebrations to dress appropriately and refrain from using the occasion to criticize the government.

The four-day festival, called Thingyan in Burmese, marks the new year that starts 13 April on the lunisolar calendar, also used in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. It is one of the few times when Burma’s citizens can cut loose under the watchful eye of the repressive regime.

Revelers splash one another with water and dance in the streets. Military generals are now saying, however, that people must act more conservatively.

The state-run Myanmar Ahlin daily reported that the government is asking citizens to "avoid wearing clothing unbecoming and contrary to [Burmese] culture and tradition, avoid behaving in a manner contrary to Buddhist teachings and avoid horseplay that could injure people."

The regime also warned citizens not to make remarks that "tarnish the image of the government or cause disrespect to the honor of the government."

It was only relatively recently that internet became popularly used in Burma, and images and videos of drunken revelers letting their hair down during Thingyan began to circulate.

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