On January 31st, I was doing notes for one of my classes when I got a text from my father. All he said was “military coup in Burma right now. So bad”. Over the next few days, the world found out that the Burmese military staged a coup on February 1st just as the National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide in the general election.
The NLD’s current chairperson, Aung San Suu Kyi, is an icon for democracy in Myanmar or Burma, my native country. She became well-known for her role in the infamous 8888 uprising where she fought for democracy in the government with non-violence. As of right now, Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest while other NLD members are being detained.
In all honesty, I was not that surprised by the military’s actions. The Burmese military has a history of being ruthless, from the 8888 uprising in the late 80s to the Saffron Revolution in 2007 where student protesters and monks were violently suppressed by the military junta. I knew of the injustice the Rohingya people and the Karen people face against the military but I didn’t think the military would be this public in their actions.
Despite the military declaring martial law as of February 8, thousands of Burmese citizens have taken to the streets to protest the coup. My parents were among the many Burmese-Americans who had protested against the coup away from their homeland. According to my parents and the other protesters that had joined them in downtown Tulsa, the purpose of the protest was to urge political leaders in the US to demand action and help the Burmese people. Others took to social media like Facebook to demand justice and in some cases, livestream a protest in cities like Yangon.
The tenacity that my parents and other Burmese people have to demand for justice is what keeps me going. Every day, I am bombarded with news of injustice around the world and I educate myself on the facts I find and try to help in any way I could. As a Burmese-American who is learning to be a journalist, I felt that it was my duty to know the information and educate others of the situation in my home country and elsewhere.
I still don’t know if my relatives in Myanmar are safe but I hope that with more news about the current situation, there will be a solution to protect the citizens of Myanmar and have their voices heard.