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Herb at The Shirt Project

Trouble in Myanmar

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In protest of inflated gas prices, several hundred monks in Myanmar (formerly Burma) marched through the streets of Yangon and Bago on September 18th, 2007. The group of no less than four hundred monks also paid their respects to Mrs. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at her home, where the Nobel Laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy had been held under house arrest since 1989.

They were quickly joined by ranks of both monks and civilians in their peaceful demonstration, and by September 24th the numbers of protesters had swelled to more than 10,000 people. The military junta, headed by Than Shwe, responded with a violent crackdown on September 26th. The brutal retaliation, which lasted for three days, subjected protesters to beatings, shootings and tear gas. By the 28th, nine protesters had been reported dead and eleven were injured. 50,000 people had protested in Yangon. More than a thousand civilians and monks were arrested and most are still being held by the junta.

Why had gas prices suddenly increased by nearly five hundred percent? Many sources conclude that the authorities announced the price hike to compensate for the junta’s decision to move Myanmar’s capitol city. In 2005, at the instruction of a soothsayer, Than Shwe ordered the capitol to be moved two hundred miles north from Yangon to the barren Pyinmana. The new capitol was christened “Naypyidaw,” meaning “City of Kings.” This incident is only one of many in Myanmar’s turbulent history informed by superstition.

“Trouble in Myanmar” is printed on American Apparel’s cranberry shirt, in reference to the deep red monks’ robes seen in photographs of the protest. The diagram begins with Than Shwe’s face, and moves counter-clockwise through the chain of events. Five hundred protesters are shown in an array that resembles the shape of Myanmar itself. Each figure accounts for one hundred people involved in the protests.

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Travis Fleck says:

Looking forward to it. The first shirt and hawk were awesome.

Louise says:

Travis, that is so awesome. I’ve been egging Rich to get a mohawk too. We’d really love to use that photo of you for the exhibition in the summer, if it’s okay with you.

Travis Fleck says:

Definitely! I can get you a higher rez version depending on print size. I’d like to suggest this topic for a shirt.

Claire Hansen says:

I can’t wait until my paycheck comes! did you clever kids pick monk-maroon on purpose?

Claire Hansen says:

of course you did! I just read further… was over-exuberant.

Louise says:

Hey Travis, we’ll definitely take you up on it. For the next shirt, Rich and I will probably steer away from protests and uprisings. We have been following the story in Pakistan though, along with the story for our next shirt. I promise it will be good!

Claire… you should model for us at some point.

Travis says:

Got it. Just read the comments on the previous post. Some feedback: I get quite a few “Hey, what’s that on your shirt?” Most people take the time to look it over and read everything.

freeze says:

wow, she is HOT!

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