© Reuters. A protester holds a self-made tube air pistol in hand during a protest against the military coup in Yangon
(Reuters) – Opponents of Myanmar's military rule made the Easter egg a symbol of defiance on Sunday, posting pictures of eggs with slogans after a night of candlelight vigils across the country to commemorate those killed since the February 1 coup .
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activist group that has been monitoring victims and arrests since the military overthrew the elected government of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, said the death toll rose to 557.
"People across Burma continue to strike for the end of the dictatorship, for democracy and human rights," said the group, using a different name for the Southeast Asian country.
Despite the killings, demonstrators come out every day, often in small groups in small towns, to oppose the return of military rule after a decade of tentative steps towards democracy. At night people gather with candles.
There were 2,658 people in custody, including four women and one man, who spoke to a visiting CNN news team in interviews on the streets of the capital city of Yangon last week, according to AAPP.
A CNN spokesman said he was aware of reports of detentions following the team's visit.
"We urge the authorities to obtain information about this and to release detainees safely," said the spokesman.
The police and a spokesman for the junta did not reply to comments.
Opponents of military rule have also launched a civil strike campaign against disobedience and are arranging spontaneous and often creative shows of defiance, which included Easter eggs on Sunday.
Messages like "We Must Win," "Spring Revolution" and "Get out MAH" were painted on eggs in photos on social media, the last of which contained a reference to junta leader Min Aung Hlaing.
The military is running its own campaign to control the flow of information and get the message across.
It ordered ISPs to cut wireless broadband from Friday, denying most customers access, although some messages and pictures were still posted and shared.
Authorities have also issued arrest warrants for nearly 40 celebrities known for opposing military rule, including social media influencers, singers, and models, under a law against inciting disagreement among the armed forces.
The charges, which were announced in the main evening news bulletins broadcast by state media on Friday and Saturday, could be sentenced to three years in prison.
One of the defendants, blogger Thurein Hlaing Win, told Reuters that he was shocked to see himself branded a criminal on television and went into hiding.
"I have not done anything bad or evil. I was on the side of the truth. I followed the path I believe in. Between good and evil, I have chosen the good," he said over the phone from an unknown location.
"If I am punished for it, my conscience is clear. My beliefs will not change. Everyone knows the truth."
The military ruled the former British colony with an iron fist after seizing power in a 1962 coup, until it withdrew from civil politics a decade ago, releasing Suu Kyi from years of house arrest and allowing an election that swept her party in 2015.
It is said that she must overthrow Suu Kyi's government after rigging an election in November, which her party easily won again. The electoral commission rejected the claim.
Many in Myanmar, especially younger people who have come of age in the last decade of social and economic openness, cannot accept the generals' return of rule.
Suu Kyi is in custody and is charged with 14 years in prison. Your lawyer says the charges are trumped.
The coup has also sparked clashes with autonomous ethnic minorities who have announced support for the pro-democracy movement.
The Karen National Union, which signed a ceasefire in 2012, has recorded the first military air strikes on its armed forces in more than 20 years and says it must fight to defend itself against a government offensive.
The group said more than 12,000 villagers fled their homes because of the air strikes.
Fighting between the army and ethnic Kachin insurgents has broken out in the north as well. The turmoil has fled several thousand refugees to Thailand and India.
Suu Kyi's party has vowed to build federal democracy, the main demand for minority groups.