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People from Myanmar in the United States have earned money by fighting a coup d’état | War Stories

New York, United States – Former student leader during the 1988 uprising against Myanmar’s dictatorial regime, Nay Myint was arrested and tortured for his actions.

“I spoke in public about democracy, human rights and freedom. Soon, the military arrested me and put me in prison for the rest of my life. I spent 15 years in prison, 10 years in solitary confinement,” he told Al Jazeera.

Last week, instead of speaking in public in Yangon, a U.S. human rights activist spoke to Myanmar people in New York City, who had gathered in Union Square to protest the February coup.

The program of holding power ended a brief attempt to democratize and oust political leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won elections in November; As a result, the military is said to be fraudulent. This led to massive demonstrations and violent protests, with the military still unable to take control of the country three months later.

While in prison, Nay Myint suffered terribly, including torture.

“Between my legs they wore metal chains for two years,” he said, which damaged his left leg. “But I believe I was in the right place. My people supported me. I am a Buddhist, I meditate to purify my body. That’s how I survived, ”he said.

A few years after it was released, people began to gather again in what became known as the 2007 Saffron Revolution, which was about the color of the robes of the monks who led the procession. The military regime began arresting freedom fighters who staged the 1988 protests, which is why Nay Myint fled to the Thai border and relocated to the US in 2008.

According to Pew Research, there were about 200,000 people from Myanmar living in the US from 2019. From 2010 to 2020 Myanmar supported refugees in the US more than any other country. Most people in Myanmar live in Minneapolis, but New York has about 7,000 inhabitants from Myanmar, making it the fifth most populous state in Myanmar.

Me Me Khant has been studying in the US since 2016 but the 25-year-old remembers doing demonstrations near Sule Pagoda in Yangon during the Safrone Revolution with his mother as a child.

“I remember hearing gunshots and then the police started beating people so my mother and I just ran away. Everyone was running away,” he said. “I think the one thing driving is just anger and how many people fled the country after ’88 and 2007. Now must be the time to end; it must be the final battle. ”

‘Guilty survivor’

Me Me Khant was on the beach in California on a coup day, celebrating a friend’s birthday. He turned off his phone to avoid distractions.

“I try to watch a video on my cell phone. I turned on the data and all the information was flooded … I can’t believe it, ”he said. “We knew people were going to protest, we knew things were going to change.”

Many of the US protesters remember the initial devastation in addition to the Saffron protests led by the monks of 2007 [File: AFP]

On February 28 this year, after nearly three weeks of holding peaceful protests, security forces opened protests, killing at least 18 people. It was just a taste of the coming threats. By May 23, the military had killed more than 800 people, including many children, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Some victims have been burned alive or tortured to death after being arrested.

“When the riots started it was the most difficult part,” said Me Me Khant. “Every morning we would wake up and watch violent videos. There is a feeling of guilt and you always want to know what is going on. I can’t get rid of it myself. For weeks I was on an emotional roller coaster. ”

The Myanmar crisis has prompted many international members to do what they can to combat it, including a woman named Shin, who helps Nay Myint prepare for events in New York.

“You have the kind of criminal, I think that’s the best way to express my feelings. Because your life is not really changing. You can do whatever you want here. You can still have your comfort and security. But my friends who are found are losing everything, ”he said, asking to name only one for fear of retaliation.

Shin said that as soon as this happened, he started going to demonstrations in New York and is still going “every time”. “The more he tortures there, the more we have to leave because we can get up safely,” he said.

These shows, which take place every two weeks, often attract hundreds of people, even if they are traveling with Milk Tea Alliance, a pan-Asian democratic party, attracted about 3,000 people according to Shin.

The US has seized the file courage against this conspiracy worldwide, endorsed the State Administration Council – a governing body set up by the ruling party – as well as many members of the cabinet, the children of military officers and military-related companies.

But Shin wants to take action, plus let the US and others know Unity Government – a state in exile – as the legitimate government of Myanmar. The NUG members were elected by a group of legislators elected in the November election and include delegates from the NLD, minority groups, government agencies and other minority parties.

The burning houses in Gawdu Zara village north of Rakhine in September 2017. The army, which sent hundreds of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh, is said to be killing people. [File: AP Photo]

But NUG was also embarrassed by Rohighya’s ideas. In 2017, the military did atrocities against a few Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, transporting about 700,000 people across the border to Bangladesh, where since then it has been accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD were indicted for failing to stand up for the violence. In 2019 Aung San Suu Kyi also defended the country against murder cases in the International Court of Justice.

Earlier this month, Democrat members at the US House of Representatives urged a UN representative in Myanmar, who remained loyal to the civilian government, to request that Rohingya be granted citizenship and a Rohingya representative elected at NUG.

“The US should not support the National Unity Government in Burma unless they have a Rohingya delegation,” said Ted Lieu, a California representative.

Shin says he understands why some may not like the NLD but compares what happened to former Bernie Sanders president who is voting for President Joe Biden to defeat Donald Trump’s successor.

“They may not like anything about NUG, but we voted for them,” he said, calling the idea “humble”.

“To reject NUG is to reject and undermine democracy.”

Shin believes that NUG will soon provide insight into the Rohingya crisis that has met some of its opponents but urged foreign countries not to delay their recognition.

Help will prosper

In addition to holding demonstrations and lobbying for the US government, members of Myanmar countries are also saving money.

Aung Moe Win, a sponsor of the Support the Democracy Movement in Burma, says his organization was able to raise more than $ 100,000 a day in New Jersey stock exchanges in Burma’s New Year.

Protesters gather near the White House in Washington, DC last month to show their support for Myanmar’s anti-government group. [FIle: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images via AFP]

“I think they were the ones who were raised outside Burma in every city in the world,” he said. Another fundraiser is planning June 19, Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday.

One-third of the money was sent to cover striking civil servants who refused military service but who often lost their jobs or were evicted from their homes. One-third of it went to government agencies similar to civilians. The latter part was given to civilians who had fled the war zone, with some major groups rejecting the plot that sparked several civil wars in various parts of the country.

Like many of those involved in the democratic process abroad, Aung Moe Win was forced to flee the country.

“I left Burma and worked for The Irrawaddy magazine in Thailand in Chiang Mai. This was a major turning point, and soon after working for The Irrawaddy, I became a slave. I can’t go back, “he said, referring to a place that has long been criticized by the military.

He lived for a few years in Thailand, and went to the US just before the saffron change.

“We are trying our best to help the people of Burma even though we are far away. We can live our own lives here; we don’t have to worry about anything, ”he said. “However, we are deeply interested in the country and want the people of Burma to enjoy the same freedoms and freedoms we have in the United States.”

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