Thailand rocket festival images misrepresented as 'missile built by Myanmar anti-coup forces'

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Five images have been repeatedly shared in Burmese-language Facebook posts alongside a claim they show "a small missile invented by anti-coup fighters in Myanmar". The images were shared in a false context: they correspond to online videos about a fire rocket festival in northeastern Thailand. AFP did not find official reports about anti-coup fighters in Myanmar successfully inventing a missile.

The images were shared here on Facebook on May 9, 2022.

The post's Burmese-language caption translates to English as: "The PDFs who are hiding in the jungle and who would like to stay anonymous have said they made a significant victory after they invented a small missile. May 9, 2022."

Screenshot taken on May 12, 2022 of the misleading post

Dozens of "people's defence forces" -- PDFs -- have sprung up across Myanmar to fight back against the junta that seized power in February 2021 and ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The college dropouts and villagers that fill their ranks have dealt some painful blows to junta troops with guerilla ambushes and mine attacks against the heavily-armed military.

The same images were shared in Facebook posts here, here, here, and here alongside a similar claim.

A combination of reverse image and keyword searches on Google found the claim is false.

Thailand rocket festival

The images featured in the false posts were taken from a video posted here on YouTube on May 7, 2022.

The video's Thai-language caption translates to English in part as: "The Fire Rocket Festival Lanna Viang, at Yasothorn Province 2022".

The fire rocket festival -- locally known as "Bun Bang Fai" -- is celebrated annually in Thailand's northeast Isan region to wish for rain in the farming season.

Yasothorn is a province in Isan.

The YouTube channel that posted the video -- Isan Productions -- states in its description that it was set up to convey the life and tradition of the people in Isan.

Since 2017, the channel had been posting footage filmed from the region including previous fire rocket festivals.

Celebrations were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic but were resumed in May 2022.

The images in the false posts correspond to the YouTube video at five points: the four-second mark; the 18-second mark; the three-minute 28-second mark; the seven-minute three-second mark and the seven-minute five-second mark.

Below are screenshots comparing the images in the false post (left) and the screenshots from the YouTube video (right):

Responding to the false posts, a spokesperson for Isan Productions told AFP: "A member of our company filmed this. It actually shows fire rocket festival in the northeastern part of Thailand, according to their beliefs."

Corresponding footage from the 2022 fire rocket festival was also posted here on YouTube and Facebook.

Suriya Cherchat, the owner of the YouTube and Facebook pages, told AFP he filmed the footage in Isan on May 7, 2022.

AFP previously debunked similar false posts about the fire rocket festival here.