Myanmar law students are reporting for JURIST on challenges to the rule of law in their country under the military junta that deposed the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. In this dispatch, one of our law students reflects on the one-year anniversary of the military coup on February 1. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
This is the first anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar. To mark what happened on 1 Feb 2021, the whole country will remain silent on 1 Feb 2022. This time, we’re silent not because we all are too stunned to respond, but because we’re all participating in a “Silent Strike”. May our SILENCE be louder than the juntas’ gunfire!
Despite the juntas attempt to disturb our silent strike by raiding the shops which declared their participation in the silent strike to deliver the message to the public, we will still do it together!
In this Revolution, time only makes us stronger. We will keep fighting even if this takes longer than this. Some people who witnessed the 1988 strikes against the military regime of the day tend to say how hard they had tried but did not reach the goal. We have to prevent the repetition of this historical pattern. We’ve come this far, so we cannot lose this time because we’ve promised the younger generations of this country that this must be the last coup in the land of Burma, and that this revolution shall end all civil wars.
We’re trying hard to escape the limitations which the juntas try to create all around everyone’s life. They murder people protesting on the street. They intentionally cut off electricity more often, hoping we thank them whenever the lights are back. They raise the internet fees to reduce the participation of people of all classes in digital strike. They freeze people’s bank accounts to cause more financial difficulties. There are more arbitrary arrests in public areas, at home, at work and anywhere to intentionally raise people’s anxiety, trying to create tiny episodes of fear in daily life that might turn into permanent fear of them. We have less space to breathe day by day. Every moment is a reminder that we cannot get used to living our lives within the limits imposed by the junta. We are human and we deserve all human rights. No bargains about it.
In just one year, we’ve come to the point of being able to fight against the junta directly, and all Myanmar people deserve credits for such progress. We’re not empty-handed anymore. We have a National Unity Government (NUG), a successful Civil Disobedience Movement which prevents the juntas from running the government functions effectively, and a People’s Defense Force (PDF), our biggest hope, which is weakening the military power of the junta day by day.
Another big gain is the growing political knowledge of general public in Myanmar. We all are leaders of our own future and our country in this revolution. By experiencing struggles together all over the country, people living in urban areas now understand the root of civil wars in Myanmar and the chronic suffering of ethnic states and minorities due to the junta. Only with such understanding will Myanmar people learn to empathize with each other’s suffering. This shall be the best foundation for a transition towards truthful Federal Democracy.
There will only be more harm to the people the longer this coup goes on. The military juntas has no plan to change or to resolve this by diplomatic meams, so declaring a defensive war is the only choice we have. The junta and democracy cannot co-exist in Myanmar. The situation is either we kill them or they kill us.
To JURIST readers whom we, as law students, have addressed for a year now:
Even if you cannot be physically here and protect us from bullets,
Even if you cannot send warm blankets for more than 5000 homeless people at IDP camps,
Even if you cannot free all 10800 detainees,
Even if you cannot bring more than 1300 dead people back to life,
There’re still many things you can do to help us.
Please help us in this revolution with us by signing a petition to urge your governments to effectively sanction the oil and gas revenues which generate profits for the juntas who use them to buy the guns pointed at our heads [https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/governments-of-the-united-states-and-france-stop-blocking-sanctions-on-myanmar-gas-revenues?source=direct_link& ]. Your action is equal to saving thousands of lives in Myanmar. We sincerely hope our voices reach you so that you can do something to respond. This is not just one country’s affair. This is a threat to justice everywhere!