Thousands turned out in Mandalay today for the funeral of 19-year-old Ma Kyal Sin, who was gunned down at a protest on the streets of Myanmar’s second largest city yesterday.
Ma Kyal Sin always let her clothes do the talking – at one Myanmar anti-coup rally, she taped a sign onto the back of her black jacket: “We need democracy. Justice for Myanmar. Respect our votes.”
Weeks later, when the 19-year-old was gunned down Wednesday at a protest on the streets of Myanmar’s second largest city Mandalay, her t-shirt read: “Everything will be ok.”
The slogan has become a poignant refrain echoing across social media, and thousands turned out for her funeral in Mandalay today.
For Kyal Sin, nicknamed “Angel”, restoring her country’s fragile democracy trumped concerns about her own safety as she protested for an end to military rule.
The young dance enthusiast joined hundreds of thousands across the country calling for the release of civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the military took over on February 1.
Before going to a demonstration this week, she listed her blood type on her Facebook page, her phone number, and said her organs were available for donation if anything were to happen to her.
“If you need, you can contact me freely at this phone number any time,” she wrote.
“I could donate [my organs] if I died. If someone needs urgent help, I can donate even if it causes my death.”
She was one of at least 17 protesters that Frontier confirmed were killed on Wednesday, although the exact toll is not clear.
Footage posted on social media shows Kyal Sin’s final moments during a demonstration that turned violent – crawling along the road and running for cover amid the sounds of gunfire and a plume of tear gas.
A doctor confirmed to AFP she had been shot in the head.
‘One vote from the heart’
In the hours following news of Kyal Sin’s death, tributes flooded online, with artwork created of her striking a crouching pose on the day of her death.
On her Facebook page, she showed a different side – posting videos of her dance moves, selfies of her outfits, and showcasing her close relationship with her father.
In a tender moment last month, he tied a red ribbon symbolising bravery around her wrist, according to photos she posted.
“I don’t want to post too much about this – just thank you, daddy,” Kyal Sin wrote, along with the hashtag “Justice for Myanmar”.
Late last year, father and daughter took photographs of their purple ink-stained fingers after casting their votes at Myanmar’s second democratic election, which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy went on to win in a landslide.
“For the first time in my life, I have undertaken my responsibility as a citizen … one vote from the heart,” Kyal Sin wrote on Facebook, posting a picture of her kissing her inked finger.
This morning, mourners sang popular revolutionary song “Kabar Ma Kyay Bu” as they filed past her coffin carrying bouquets and floral wreaths.
Leading the funeral procession to the cemetery was a truck covered in flowers with a “hero” poster on the front followed by an elaborate black and gold hearse.
The outpouring of grief extended online with many calling her a martyr.
“My heart feels so much hurt,” one of her friends posted on Facebook.
“Rest in peace my friend,” another male friend wrote. “We will fight this revolution until the end.”