Myanmar’s young brave souls
Two weeks have passed since the illegal coup staged by the army chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, alleging the reason behind the coup being an election fraud. On the early morning of February 1, majority of Myanmar people were broken. We felt powerless against those who have guns and weapons. But as young people, we felt hopeless. It seemed like our dreams and life goals suddenly vanished in just one morning. Military rule means the dark days where everything we do would be put under constant surveillance, and the dark days where they would constantly feed us fear. We are outraged because our basic rights were abused by people with power. And worse, when this so-called power comes in the form of weapons…
The youth have always been at the forefront of the nationwide political movements against unjust rule from the British colonial rule to consecutive military rules over the past century. Young people have always been courageous. Today, we write the story of young people’s resistance, the story of Myanmar’s young brave souls, and our fight against the power-hungry evil force. The story of young people collectively fighting for justice, freedom and basic human rights.
On the sixth day of the coup, a group of women factory workers and young activists in Yangon had taken to the streets as the first street anti-coup protest. It was led by a young woman politician, who contested in Pabedan Township in the November election together, with other young activists. Her name is Ei Thinzar Maung. The country saw a light in her name which inspired others to take their resistance on streets. This awakened young brave souls of Myanmar, and soon, it was manifested in large demonstrations sprung from north to south of the country.
As protests started to gain momentum, police and solider forces were deployed around large protest rallies. On the fourth day of street protest, on February 9, police started using violence to break up the rallies. An unarmed young protester was shot with live ammunition in the head by a police chief in Naypyidaw, the capital. She was later pronounced brain dead, and received a life support in the hospital to hold onto a slight chance that one day a miracle would happen, and that she might wake up. However, on February 13, her family decided that they will let her put into an eternal sleep and agreed to dissemble a live support. She stopped breathing. Her name was Myat Thwe Thwe Khine which we will always remember. The country cried in her name, and cursed at the police chief who abused his power using violence brutally. May she Rest In Peace and Power.
History sadly repeats in Myanmar: the tragic death of Myat Thwe Thwe Khine of this year 2021 reminds us of a tragic death of a 16-year-old girl some 30 years ago. It was also anti-junta protest in 1988. She was shot dead by soldiers during a nationwide demonstration that is famously known as 8-8-88 uprising. She stopped breathing on the spot among the flying bullets. Her name was Win Maw Oo. The country cried in her name, and cursed at the unknown murderer that killed a young girl ruthlessly. May she be watching over us in her courageous spirit from above to support our fight against this evil force.
Our fight for democracy has been a long journey: our parents joined the 88 Uprising, our big brothers and sisters participated in 2007 Saffron Revolution. Now the journey has been shared with us. Many things has changed in the past 30 years. Myanmar has changed too. The dictator might still think that staging a coup and detaining civilian leaders would grant him an absolute power. What he did not expect was the advancement in the society during the brief window of democracy in the past ten years. What he did not expect was the non-violent protest activities of young people. What he did not expect was the civil disobedience by various civil servants. What he did not expect was the fact that the same old tactics from his old playbook no longer work.
General public recognizes and appreciates the creativity and a collective leadership of Generation Z (Gen-Z) in the 2021 anti-coup movement. It is the demographic cohort succeeding millennials and preceding generation Alpha. They belong to a group born in mid-to-late 1990s to early 2010s. Their approach is non-violent, strategic, creative and innovative. As a generation who grow up with latest technology, mobile games, social media and meme culture, their protests represent those symbolic culture of the very generation. Lively and innovative protest style comes in different forms: colorful display of humorous placards, memes, cosplays, music, art, and performances. However, the essence of the demonstrations remain the same with earlier generations. That is — to end the military coup and to fight for freedom and democracy.
Though some criticized that they went overboard with their memes, performances and costumes, they are determined and serious. They are willing to accept feedback and criticism. They are flexible and responsive. Once they heard their meme-and cosplay-inspiring protests lost the essence of the demonstration, they quickly changed their method to holding the banners that boldly show the purpose precisely calling for demands to end the military rule, to free the detained leaders, to recognize the election result, and to restore and build federal democracy. They also learn the lessons from the history of earlier protests and advices from earlier generation, which they use to adjust their strategies to suit today’s changing situation and to respond nonviolently to the moves taken by the military.
We know power is in the hands of collective group of people. We recognize that there is no one single leader; everyone is a leader and everyone is powerful. They may have guns and weapons but we have the strength and power of the millions of people who are determined to defy the unlawful military rule and to fight for justice. In this movement, If we are all united, and determined to support the right group to join force— which is the group of civil servants joining the Civil Disobedience Movement, we will ultimately win, and we will eventually eliminate the evil root out of the system.
This is a story of young brave souls of Myanmar.