YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Revelers who wear “decadent” clothing during Myanmar’s upcoming New Year’s celebrations can face up to a month in prison, a news report said Sunday.
The four-day festival begins April 13 and marks the traditional New Year on the lunisolar calendar that is also used in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It’s one of the few times when Myanmar’s citizens can cut loose under the watchful eye of the repressive regime.
Revelers in the impoverished country splash one another with water and dance in the streets, despite annual warnings of proper etiquette from the government. Myanmar was under military rule for 50 years.
Following elections last year, the junta was officially disbanded and handed power to a nominally civilian government, but the rules for partying during the New Year’s celebration remain unchanged.
The News Watch journal, a weekly magazine, issued the government’s warning for merrymakers to “avoid wearing dress that is contrary to Myanmar culture.”
It said that a special committee will supervise what people are wearing and will use CCTV cameras to videotape crowds.
Those caught “wearing decadent attire” can face a fine and up to one month in prison, the weekly reported. It did not specify what clothing was banned, but government warnings in the past have called on women to not wear skimpy tank tops and short shorts. Past warnings have also told revelers to avoid making remarks that could hurt national unity, not to honk horns, and to avoid horseplay that could injure people, like throwing bags filled with ice.
A more detailed list of this year’s rules is expected to be printed in state-run media in the coming days.
Myanmar, which has been ruled by the military since 1962 and is also known as Burma, held its first elections in 20 years in November, though there has been little indication since of real democratic changes. The elections were widely criticized as a sham. ♦