After a decade of change in Myanmar, fear of the past drives anti-coup protests

A communications blackout, the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi with out phrase, wild rumors fed by a paucity of information.

All recalled the darkest days of a succession of navy juntas that dominated Myanmar throughout half a century of ruinous isolation – driving many individuals to mass protests in fear that such instances may return.

That included a Generation Z who grew up with considerably larger freedom and prosperity in what nonetheless stays one of Southeast Asia’s poorest and most restrictive nations.

“We don’t want a dictatorship for the next generation or for us,” stated Thaw Zin, a 21-year-old amongst the sea of folks massed in the shadow of Sule Pagoda in the middle of the industrial capital of Yangon on Sunday.

Some carried posters that learn: “You fucked with the wrong generation”.

Shaking with emotion, Thaw Zin stated, “If we don’t stand this time for our country, our people, there is no one. Evil will fall on us. We will never forgive them for the trouble they have brought to us.”

Myanmar’s military seized energy final Monday, detaining Suu Kyi and halting an unsteady transition to democracy, citing unsubstantiated fraud in the election landslide received by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy in November.

Successive navy juntas dominated Myanmar from 1962 till 2011, when a quasi-civilian authorities began opening up the nation and its economic system after Suu Kyi was free of a spell of what totaled almost 15 years beneath home arrest.

In 2012, only one.1 per cent of the inhabitants used the web and few folks had telephones, in line with the International Telecommunication Union.

But after liberalization in 2013, the value of SIM playing cards dropped from greater than $200 to as little as $2 nearly in a single day. By 2016, almost half the inhabitants had cell telephones and most had been smartphones with web entry.

Pre-publication censorship was abolished and personal media proliferated. While journalists remained beneath heavy scrutiny and arrests continued, it was a far cry from the days when the solely information was state-produced propaganda that glorified the generals and lambasted “foreign axe-handles of the West”.

After the navy seized energy, activists responded with requires a mass civil disobedience motion that unfold quickly on-line, one thing that may not have been potential earlier than.

The parliament that had been attributable to be sworn in on Monday, the day of coup, held a symbolic first session by Zoom.

Anger over the web shutdown on Saturday – so reminiscent of the outdated days – drove each older generations all too acquainted with isolation and youthful ones all of a sudden minimize off.

“Most of us youths work at I.T companies,” stated one 22-year-old protester. “Since the whole server is shutdown, we can’t do anything. It affects our business as well as our opportunities.”

‘We hate dictatorship’

“We all know how terrible it was,” stated 40-year-old Maw Maw Aung, who was additionally amongst the crowds beside Sule Pagoda, of direct military rule. “We cannot live under the boot of the military. We hate dictatorship. We really hate it.”

She remembered the legacy of crippled schooling and healthcare programs beneath the junta. When the World Health Organization final did rankings, in 2008, Myanmar’s well being system got here final.

“We lived in fear everyday,” she stated. “We are behind our neighboring countries in everything.”

As the generals shut the web on Saturday, echoes of the outdated period reappeared.

Activists and politicians went into hiding. Wild rumors started to unfold: that numerous high-profile NLD leaders had been useless, that Suu Kyi had been freed, and the military chief toppled.

Without clarification on Sunday night, the web was switched again on. But there was no signal of the protests abating. Many are fearful about what comes subsequent: earlier uprisings in opposition to the navy – in 1988 and 2007 – have been subdued with lethal drive.

“With the anti-coup protests gaining steam, we can well imagine the reaction to come,” creator and historian Thant Myint-U wrote on Facebook.

“But Myanmar society is completely different from 1988 and even 2007,” he stated. “I have tremendous faith in today’s younger generation. Anything is possible.”

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