This photo shows an anti-coup protest in Myanmar, not a pro-military march

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A photo of a crowd with banners and placards has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook, alongside a claim it shows university students in Myanmar taking part in a pro-military rally on the anniversary of the 2021 military coup. The photo circulated online after news reports of other rallies by military supporters across Myanmar on February 1, 2022. However, the photo was shared in a false context; it has circulated online since February 2021 and corresponds to previous photos of an anti-coup protest shared by a university's student union in Myanmar. A spokesperson of the student union told AFP the photo was taken during an anti-coup march they participated in.

The photo was shared here on Facebook on February 1, 2022. It has since been shared more than 300 times.

It shows a helmet-wearing crowd holding banners in Burmese reading "Technological University (Monywa) student alumni".

The Burmese-language caption on the post translates to English as: "Students from Monywa Technological University participating in a pro-military rally".

Monywa Technological University is based in Monywa, a city in the Sagaing region of northwest Myanmar.

Screenshot taken on February 7, 2022 of the misleading post

February 1, 2022 marks one year since the Myanmar military took over the country in a coup which detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her government and sparked huge pro-democracy protests - often with students at the forefront - and a military crackdown.

The claim began to circulate as pro-military supporters came out on the streets in support of the junta while pro-democracy supporters staged a nation-wide silent strike to mark the anniversary. AFP reported the story here.

The photo has been shared with a similar claim on Facebook here, here and here.

However, the photo is being shared in a false context.

A reverse image search on Google found the photo was shared this tweet published on February 10, 2021 about student alumni from Monywa Technological University taking part in an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon.

Below is the screenshot comparing the photo from the misleading post (L) to the photo from the Twitter post in 2021 (R):

the screenshot comparison of the photo from the misleading post (L) to the photo from Twitter post (R)

Thousands of people from different backgrounds marched together in Yangon and other major cities across Myanmar to protest the military takeover in the early days of the coup, AFP reported here on February 10, 2021.

The Monywa Technological University student union also posted similar images of their alumni participating in the demonstration on their Facebook page on the same day, featuring the same banner as seen in the photo.

Both banners read, "Technological University (Monywa) student alumni group".

The Burmese-language caption of the post reads, "Salute to all the alumni from Technological University (Monywa) who are participating in a demonstration against the military dictatorship".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo from the misleading post (L) and a photo in the student union's post in 2021 (R):

screenshot comparison of the banner from the misleading post (L) to the banner from the student union's post (R)

Contacted by AFP in regards of the photo in the misleading posts, the Monwya Technological University Student Union confirmed it was taken in their anti-coup protest in February 2021.

"The photo was taken on February 10, 2021 in Yangon. Technological universities across the country marched together in Yangon that day for the engineers march and Monwya Technological University was part of that march," a spokesperson from the Monwya Technological University Student Union told AFP on February 14, 2022.

"Sharing old images from anti-coup marches and saying it is from pro-military rally shows that they (military supporters) are quite shameless," the spokesperson added.