Opinion and Editorial

Myanmar junta must respect people’s will

Filed on February 22, 2021

The people are crying for help.

A wave of civil disobedience is spreading through Myanmar. The killing of two people on Saturday, when the army used live ammunition to disperse protesters, failed to deter people from pouring on to the streets on Monday and raising their voice against the military rule. Many returned despite the risks and several more joined demonstrations, making it the biggest show of defiance since the coup happened on February 1. The general strike has found supporters across the country and it is not surprising. This time, the frustration and anger far outweigh the fear of losing lives. The young see the return of dictatorial rule as a betrayal of their hopes and dreams that can only flourish in a democracy. Growing up in the digital age, and connected with the world through the social media, the crowds are fired up and inspired by recent civil disobedience movements in Hong Kong and Thailand. Many have grown up listening to the tales of the popular revolt of August 1988, which was crushed by the military rule. Today they are using their voice to reach out to the world, to the United Nations, and are sending message using their placards and slogans. They are on Twitter, Facebook and other mediums. The people are crying for help.

Myanmar has wilted under the decades-long military rule of junta. Its fledgling democracy was far from perfect, but it was a good start. This is what the people preferred. After living in the shadows of dictatorial rule for decades, a vast majority of people had found hope in their leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The last elections in November gave her a thumping majority once again, but perhaps it also frightened the military rulership, who would have required the assent of the civilian leaders to ensure soon-to-retire senior general Min Aung Hlaing continues to stay in power.

On the global front, the US has been quick to announce sanctions. Facebook, which was temporarily blocked in the country after the coup, has acted swiftly and deleted the main page of military, Tatmadaw True News Information Team Page, for incitement of violence. The people of Myanmar are putting up a brave front against the military. They are demonstrating that they do not want to be ruled by a group of leaders who consider Myanmar as their personal fief. Myanmar’s democracy has had a checkered history with atrocities against the minorities. But the recent political reversal has united people across sections, and they are together demanding a government elected by them, and not one imposed upon them. They should be supported.

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