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Liberty and Leadership Scholar Updates from the Frontlines

We asked our Liberty and Leadership Scholars to share what they would like the world to know regarding what is happening in Burma.

Article by Katie Kardell February 17, 2021 //   10 minute read
  • “Even though the 2008 constitution was not a democratic one, we the people of Myanmar including our children have hope for the future. When we learned the military took the state power on the first of February, my dream for me and my children were faded away and it made me despaired. However, after a week from the coup, demonstrating on the street gave us a better and brighter hope for the country and the people. The main reason of taking part in this movement is for a better future and prevailing justice and federal democracy. A dream of a better and brighter future have been spoiled by the brutality of the military and police. They are brutally cracking down on peaceful and non-violence protesters, who are demanding for justice and democracy. The situation is now desperate and we don’t even dare to go out because they often indiscriminately shot and killed innocent people.” 

  • "People are dying in Myanmar. Emergency international support is essential to alleviate death and suffering. Revolutions are built on hope."
  • "Living with uncertainty is so stressful. The Myanmar army is breaking down physical, mental and spiritual well being of unarmed civilians. It is traumatizing to see the desperation of IDPs who do not have other options. If Myanmar does not get the back up and assistance, there will be more casualty."
  • "I am now currently working in the frontline of the protest as a medical cover. Every day, we face a violent crackdown of the military on peaceful protesters and I am a witness to their massacre."
  • "My message is we have ICRC, MSF, or other humanitarian organizations' missions in Myanmar, and in basic humanitarian principles, arrested and detained persons must be treated humanely; their lives, physical integrity, and dignity must be protected and respected in all circumstances. Here, all these organizations failed to protect in field ground and no intervention until over 600 people are killed."
  • "I would like to speak out that the Military must respect basic humanitarian principles and laws, and in any situation in the country, people in Myanmar have full rights to have proper medical treatment and access to health services. In Fundamental Health Rights, Myanmar Military must pay respect for the following rights and avoid torturing of detained persons and refer to hospitals for proper health care and treatment. Right to Health contains Freedoms: These freedoms include the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Right to Health contains Entitlements: These entitlements include equal and timely access to basic health services and access to essential medicines."
  • "I am hopeful for my country as I see people raise their voices and speak out. Now, I am counting dead bodies and waiting for my turn. I am afraid but will keep moving forward till we are truly free.  On a hot summer day, walking with a long line of people marching toward Sule city center from different parts of Yangon, I feel hope for my country. Almost all the long lines that the eye can see, young people are walking, clapping, and demanding the military to gave back our power "Give back our power." The majority of young people who risk their lives and join the protest are not interested in politics before even some of them have voted in the last election. They want to be in control of their future as they chant, "We are young people; we have a future." Now, they understand that their future is dark even the sun is hot over their head. The military respond with arresting, intimidating, and killing the people. One taxi driver told me that more people died during the 1988 protests, but people are secure in their own homes. Now, security forces break into people's homes and killing people, including children. Nowhere is safe for anyone. Even things become darker; we saw the light as student unions across the country putting out a statement that saying sorry to ethnics minority including Rohingya, for not standing in solidarity with them during the past. Diversity is accepted, and the future seems hopeful now. Even every day, we still count the dead body, and the number of arrests increases. As of today, I am counting the number of dead. The number of arrest and warrant list that my friends are on. I live in fear while supporting my friends, the CDM movement, and provide information to the people. I also feel guilty for not able to do anything substantial. These are the dark days. I do not know what will happen to me or my country tomorrow. I have faith that people will win, and we will build federal democracy where everyone can be who they are in this land."
  • "I'm feeling distressed.  I'm deeply worried about the potential negative consequences on the health, education, psychological well-being of the children, and food and nutrition security of the vulnerable population especially already poverty-stricken breastfeeding mothers and children.  The civil unrest and total government system shutdown especially hospitals and banks closing have superimposed on the destructive impact of COVID-19 crisis.  We are not able to monitor the situation of COVID cases spreading in the country and expect the cases have been doubled by directly and indirectly transmitting through the crowds.  The conflict-affected community including displaced people in Rakhine, Kayin, Kachin and Northern Shan states should get special attention as the children living there in IDP camps have very uncertain future.  I wish this crisis will end very soon." 
  • "The Janda released thousands of prisoners. Pretending as prisoners, the policemen and the men hired by military people are invading the quarters, trying to fire the houses at night. The community members are arranging to secure their quarters their own. Last night and the previous night, the police men and their men with the drugs, hand cuff and weapons were arrested by the community in some quarters in Yangon and Mandalay, including my quarter. According to my experience in 1988, the police and military used the same method to create the civil unrest and murder committed by the community to use the reason of the coup. But the community now know their method and are being very careful not to allow the murder. The community is trying only to arrest those men and send them to the police station or detain them in the public religious building. Every night, we are keeping ourselves stay awake, securing our quarter ourselves." 
  • "This demonstration not necessarily mean our love for Democracy. It is mostly our hatred towards Military dictator. The country with or without coup , need to address root causes. Such as poverty. Inequality. Human rights abuses. Etc."  
  • "My family and I are still fine and safe.  Yes, it is a challenging period for all of our people and we feel that loss of the future due to this military seize power.  However, millions of citizens are against the coup and show their feelings by marching into protest.  We Yangon Based Kachin Youth also participate in this protest which has been for five days so far.  Many young Kachin young people are motivated to fight against the military. Now, every corner of the streets are full of protesters and involve many ethnic groups as well. It is now nationwide and you may see the protest across the country.   But It really needs international community support to the people who are involved in this protest and against the military regime. We really appreciate your government's immediate action and please keep them put under pressure. "
  • "It’s been consecutive nights in a row that our civilians are illegally arrested during night. Isn’t it 2 weeks too long to take serious action against this unlawful Coup? How much of our safety and lives will be threatened in these days again? 

       The MILITARY revoked the law so that they can now : 

        - arrest anyone without warrants   

        - search houses without any ward administrators or warrants  

         - eavesdrop lines or calls to seek information   

        - can detain anyone for > 24hrs"  

  • Wai Wai Nu's organization, Women's Peace Network, recently released a letter to the UNSC as a call for support. Read the letter here, and visit her Women & LGBTQ+ of Burma/Myanmar Coup Tracker here