While the situation was expected to normalize on February 1st with the long-awaited end of the confinement, the coup was a very violent shock - especially for the young people of Generation Z who were beginning to see their country democratize and develop even more after the electoral success of November 2020.
What is the situation today?
We try in this letter to give you some news and if you want a concrete way to support them.
A shock that mobilizes the youth of Generation Z
Almost 3 weeks ago, early in the morning of Monday, February 1, the Burmese army arrested the leaders of the ruling party (National League for Democracy, NLD), including President U Win Myint and State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi (Mother Suu for the Burmese). The army then announced a state of emergency and halted a stabilizing democratic process. The military has continued to harden its tone since the coup and has since developed a repressive arsenal. More than 450 people - politicians, doctors, activists, students, strikers - have been detained. Nevertheless, young Burmese, especially the " Generation Z" are on the front line against the junta.
Too young to have experienced previous military regimes and the bloody repressions of 1988 and 2007, they have grown up in the intoxicating atmosphere of the democratic process that began just a decade ago, after the ruling junta "self-dissolved" itself in 2011 - ending forty-nine years of dictatorship. The February 1 coup d'état is the image of the great step backwards that this military takeover symbolizes. The youth of "Generation Z" are not ready to digest or accept it.
Popular resistance has taken various forms, some of which are harder to silence than others: the hammering of pots and pans in many parts of Myanmar at 8pm every evening, which recalls a Buddhist tradition of driving out demons. The Civil Desobedience Movement is growing. Civil servants, doctors and a large part of the population has stopped working. The country is at a standstill. Calls for civil disobedience have continued to be made in Burma despite the junta's increasing repression.
"We have no choice, it is our responsibility to continue the struggle against the army that has stolen our democracy! "says Monica, from YounSone. "If we can't communicate through the internet, we have created networks to continue the struggle."
But this fight is difficult and creates divisions and dramas within their families in a society that still has great respect and even total obedience to its forefathers. It is a difficult heartbreak for many. "I feel all alone in my struggle," says Julia who manages YounSone and is cut off from the rest of her family who are entrenched in places protected by the military.
What drives them?
The singular profile of these unarmed "insurgents" who are the spearhead of an unprecedented movement, the embodiment of the overall rejection of the population facing a hated army, is shaped around three words: determination, courage and fear.
They all say it, repeat it and chant it in a kind of stubborn mantra: "We will not give in, if we fail now, it's over: today's struggle is the guarantee of our future. We protest today for a better tomorrow."
As one young woman asserted, somewhat bravely, "If I have to, I'm ready to die. " When one remembers that the 1988 demonstrations resulted in 3,000 deaths, however, this statement may not be an empty promise.
All recognize this: "We fear violent repression, we know that the army can shoot. Frankly, I realize that tomorrow I might be dead." They feel less alone than the mythical heroes of the "88 Generation": and it is there that we can help and support. "Thirty-three years ago, our predecessors were fighting in a Burma almost cut off from the world. The exactions of the soldiers could not be repercussions immediately, there was neither Internet nor cell phones. Students had limited knowledge of the outside world. Today I am connected through our movement with people from all over Asia but also from Europe and the rest of the world. This gives us strength even if we feel isolated. Their affection, interest and support counts and keeps us going," concludes Julia.
Interviews of the YounSone by Fondacio team in Myanmar
Articles published in Le Monde