TW: Rape, Murder, Torture
“Where are you from?”
“I’m from Myanmar!”
“Oh! Where is that?”
“It’s a small country near Thailand and India.”
That is how most of my conversations go when someone asks me what country I am from. And yes, I am from a small country near Thailand and India, but Myanmar is so much more than that. It is a country full of beautiful people, culture, and traditions. Right now, my country is going through unimaginable, terrible events and now, more than ever, people need to know what is going on in Myanmar.
The reason that most people don’t know where Myanmar is or that it is even a country is that it has been ruled by the military, under a dictatorship, for over 70 years. So, it was completely closed off from the rest of the world. Power was finally handed over to the democratic party in 2011. However, the military still kept 25% of the seats in the parliament, so the government was still never able to fully make the changes that the people wanted.
Being the power-hungry people they are, 25% was not enough for the military. On February 1st, 2021, the military staged a coup where they kidnapped all the elected officials from the November 2020 elections and illegally took over the country. On that day, all phone services and the internet were cut off and nation-wide panic set in. In 1988 and 2007, when people protested against the military rule, thousands of citizens were shot, beheaded, and tortured, and we were afraid that this would happen all over again. And it did.
On February 5th, hundreds of thousands of people started protesting on the streets for our elected leaders to be released and for the military to step down and let us have democracy. The protests were peaceful. There were no lootings or fires and we even cleaned up trash every night to make sure that we left the streets clean. Many people also started participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) where citizens refuse to listen to or obey the commands of the military. This included government workers quitting their jobs. At 8 pm every night, people also started banging their pots and pans from their homes. This stems from the Burmese tradition where we ward off evil by banging our pots.
However, on February 10th, the military started shooting the peaceful protesters and anyone that has spoken out against them. On April 1st, 60 days after the coup, the military had murdered, at the very least, 573 people. The number grows every single day and by the time you read this, there will probably be hundreds more dead. People, including 14-year-old children and 70 years old elderly people, are shot in the head and killed. Police and soldiers kidnap people in the middle of the night, pour acid on their faces, take out their organs, stitch up their bodies and return them to their families the next day. Police and soldiers arrest and rape women until they are bleeding. Police and soldiers beat children, the elderly, women, men, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and the disabled until they either die or have scars and marks all over their bodies. Police and soldiers shoot into hospitals and ambulances that are trying to save the people that the military has shot. Police and soldiers burn down people’s houses. Police and soldiers throw tear gas and shoot bullets into people’s homes. Ethnic minorities that have been targeted by the military for years are having to flee from their homes because their villages have been burned down.
I hear gunshots outside my window every single day. I see pictures of people’s brains spilling on the ground because they’ve been shot in the head. I hear about girls my age being raped and killed by the military every day. I see police on the streets with their rifles and snipers. I wake up every day not knowing if my family, friends, and I will be able to see the end of the day. To have to deal with this on top of the Covid-19 virus has taken a huge toll on the mental healths of me and everybody else in my country.
I am begging the international community to start talking about this. My country is one of the poorest in the world and a majority of the people are living under the poverty line. People are living off 1, or if they’re lucky, 2 USD a day. But our people have the bravest, biggest, most beautiful hearts. We still go out every day to protest for our rights, even though hundreds have been killed. We stand united against this common enemy and we want all of you to join in as well.
Here are some Instagram pages and news articles that have more information on this topic:
Instagram: @listenupmyanmar @fullbelliesforlife @ootdmyanmar @ourfightforfreedom @documentingmyanmar @whats.happening.in.myanmar
Photo credit: Lulu