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. Here, one of our correspondents who must remain anonymous offers her perspective on circumstances and events in Myanmar two years after the military coup. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
Today, February 1, 2023, marks exactly two years since Myanmar’s military coup.
13,787 is the number of people in Myanmar now under detention.
2,947 is the number of people killed since February 1, 2021, as verified by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
These figures are facts that can grab attention. But the stories behind these numbers are a lot more than the numbers themselves. If we add how many family members of these detainees and these fallen heroes are suffering, the number of actual victims of the military coup would make up the whole population of Myanmar.
Since it is impossible for all of us to shout out and tell the world how our rights have been robbed, Myanmar people express their loudest cry in the form of silence in unison. In big cities like Mandalay and Yangon, you heard today the loudest silence of Myanmar people. From 10 am to 3 pm Myanmar time, we all closed down our businesses, stayed at home and left all the streets empty and silent. Despite the military junta’s attempt to make people get out of their houses by cutting off electricity in my city for the whole day and attempting to make people travel to police stations to pick up their motorbikes which were arbitrarily taken away yesterday, today’s silent strike is a big success.
Whether we shout out loud or we decide to stay silent, it is our choice. This is the main reason why the whole population of Myanmar participated in today’s silent strike. Not only are we being oppressed not to speak out about this, but we cannot even bang pots and pans at 8 pm every day as an act of resistance. Nonetheless, our complete silence is something the military regime cannot stop at all.
The solidarity and resilience of Myanmar people is going strong to this day. In these past two years, Myanmar people have come to a deep and unbreakable realisation that they are the source of power in this democratic society and they demonstrate this again and again by protesting on the streets, banging pots and now, the loudest silence. This country is ours. The streets are ours. Whether we want to run the city or not, it is up to us. What kind of government we want is also definitely up to us. One day when we get our democracy, we can say Myanmar people are their own lifesavers and I believe this is the right way to start a democratic nation.
Reporting to you what I see, hear and experience as a Myanmar citizen on the ground right now, I have faith in Myanmar people that we will see the light at the end of this revolution even though I am typing this dispatch while sitting in the dark because there is no electricity. My friends who went out to protest on the streets with me two years ago are still with me today to participate in the Civil Disobedience Movement. How much time we are taking to win this revolution frustrates us because the numbers of dead heroes and detainees will increase with time, but this day shows us that time will only make our revolution stronger, not weaker. Next 5 years, we can still go on. Maybe in 10 years we will probably have made it, and our younger generations might already be getting the fruits of this revolution. I am excited to witness this myself. And I hope the readers of our dispatches from Myanmar stay with us till the end. In urging for never-ending support from the international community, the one thing I definitely want is readers’/people’s curiosity about how Myanmar people are bravely fighting, every day.
Two years ago, I was a third-year law student. Two years ago, I was devastated to learn that the laws in the books are not reality in front of me. Today, I am still a third-year law student. However, I believe that this is my time as a Myanmar citizen, and I hope I and others like me are a testament to how Myanmar law students and lawyers shall rise above all of this.
“May our revolution be a success!”