- Why do I feel like a criminal on the run? We have not done anything wrong and yet we are forced to flee. These monsters, they should be ashamed.
My friend writes to me at the same time as she gets in the car that will take her away from the violence in Yangon to the relative security in the countryside. Next to her she has her mother, they are on their way to her home village. If they are stopped in a roadblock, the official explanation is that she will escort her mother home. But the truth is that she herself must get out of Yangon in order not to risk being caught.
Recently, violence has escalated in a very worrying way in Burma (also known as Myanmar). Police and military kill protesters on the streets every day. More than 250 protesters have been killed so far and an unknown number have been injured since the military re-seized power in a February 1 coup. The violence is becoming more and more brutal. Not infrequently, the military aims at the head, which shows that the purpose is to kill. A large proportion of those who have lost their lives are young people. Every day, my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of dead teenagers and grieving relatives.
At the same time as the military's violence against protesters is escalating, repression is also increasing in other ways. There has been a curfew for several weeks and last weekend martial law was introduced in several parts of Yangon, giving the military even greater powers. In addition, the military junta has rolled back civil and political rights and made legislative changes that make it possible to detain people indefinitely without trial. At night, police and the military break into people's homes and take away people who have taken part in protests, or who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. More than 2 activists, politicians and journalists have been arrested so far. Now more and more people are forced to go underground, or like my friend, flee to another place.
The military has also cracked down on freedom of the press and expression. Several leading media have had their permits revoked and offices searched. Civil society organizations have also been a clear target. It is clear that the broad popular opposition to the military coup has taken the junta to bed. Tens of thousands refuse to work for the junta and at least as many demonstrate daily in the streets in nationwide protests.
The protest movement is known as the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and aims to prevent the junta from taking control of the state apparatus. And so far, the CDM movement has had a tangible effect. The authorities are paralyzed and the banking system is more or less knocked out because the staff are on strike. 300 hospitals are completely closed. Power outages have increased.
The question is what happens now. The situation stands and weighs. The protesters are putting heavy pressure on the junta, which is becoming increasingly desperate and resorting to more violence. The outside world has an important role in supporting the demonstrators and increasing the pressure from outside.
The phone rings. For my friend, the journey has gone well this time. She announces that she has arrived at an intermediate station on the road. We can both breathe out temporarily.