On the 1st of February, the Myanmar military declared a state-of-emergency takeover. The military seized power and control from the elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The military decreed the recent election fraudulent and illegal. The state-of-emergency granted the Commander-in-Chief, Aung Hlaing, judicial, legislative and executive power over the state for a one-year tenure. The people of Myanmar immediately took to the streets, demanding the release of the democratic officials and their leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. However, peaceful protests soon developed into a “war-zone” with the military responding with force.
Over a month has passed since the military’s orchestrated coup d’état. Citizens have endured blackouts, raids, un-lawful detainment, arrests, abuse and violence. Dozens have lost their lives, while others adjust to the smell of smoke, tear gas and bombs. Protesters remain resilient despite the continual threat to their lives. As the death toll rises in Myanmar, the message is clear – the people will not support or tolerate military rule.
Human Rights Specialist John Quinley says the military response is “an attack on peaceful protesters throughout the country, it is not crowd-control techniques, this is an attack on civilians and people protesting against the military takeover.”
In a time of unrest, the people of Myanmar have banded together, offering food, shelter and solace to their neighbours. The city comes alive at night, protestors bang pots and pans and chant the evil away. Mynamar youth have demonstrated their renewed resolve for justice, running through the streets presenting the symbolic three-fingered salute. Millennials are championing the protests declaring the “dictatorship must end in our era.”
Protesters urge foreign powers to take action, writing “how many bodies are needed for the UN to take action.” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet commanded the military to “halt their vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters.” Other countries have actively condemned the military response in Myanmar, with little effect on the coup. The military response was irreverent, declaring, “we are used to sanctions and we survived those sanctions in the past…we have to learn to walk with only a few friends.”
A coordinated response from the United Nations remains uncertain, with China and Russia likely to veto any imposed sanctions on the ruling Military government. With the death toll and totalitarian brutality rising through the country, the people are in desperate need of reprieve. The United Nations must fulfil its moral obligations to the people of Myanmar and intervene. Un-lawful and un-justified violence cannot be left unchecked.
Citizens remain determined in their resolve to fight for their freedoms. The military’s brutality re-invigorates the people’s resolve to march towards a free Myanmar, controlled by the people, not the military or a dictated government.
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