‘Our daily life, rights, and opportunities were destroyed.’: One year on from the Myanmar coup

World

On 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup.

Many democratically elected politicians including the country’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and President U Win Myint were detained.

Others fled or were forced into hiding.

The military regime said concerns of widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 vote was the reason it needed to take power and declare a state of emergency.

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Allegations of abuse and unlawful killings

The coup sparked mass peaceful protests across the country which in some areas turned to armed resistance after junta security forces responded with lethal force.

More than 1,500 people have been killed and more than 11,000 have been arrested by the regime in the last year according to monitoring group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPPB).

Three people spoke to Sky News about their lives since the coup.

More on Myanmar

Some names have been changed for safety.

‘People who stood for truth were now in danger of death’

Sister Ann Roza. Pic sent by Sibohan Robbins
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Sister Ann Roza wants the next leader to rule with ‘love’

Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng, 46, is a nun in Myitkyina, Kachin state, who made global headlines in March after kneeling in front of armed security forces in Myanmar and begging them not to shoot civilians.

She is now helping to care for people displaced by fighting in the country.

Read more: Nun who opposed Myanmar military says she begged them for mercy

“Everyone is sad. We now feel that the country is going back to the old ages. Elders and children feel that they have lost their hope. We are seeing that people are tired.

Sister Ann Roza
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The nun is now helping to care for people displaced by fighting in the country.

“Before February 2021, people in Myanmar were happily achieving their life goals. The government helped people during the COVID-19 waves, so people were not in trouble.

“Since the coup, everything is in darkness. Some people had to flee their homes, they were arrested and sentenced to prison.

Read more: Claims of abuse and death in custody under country’s military rule

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“Parents and children were separated from each other. Education, health and social life were lost. People’s lives were lost. Some villages were torched to ashes…properties were lost.

“Those were the inhumane acts….I wish those things would never happen again. The most difficult thing over the last year was [people became] mentally and physically sick.

“People were in trouble because of the coup. People who stood for truth were now in danger of death.

Smoke billows from vehicles discovered in Hpruso township. Pic: ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Two Save the Children staff members were among at least 35 people, including children, who were killed in Myanmar on Christmas Eve. Pic AP

“They were killed brutally. I feel sad whenever I look at those incidents. It’s excruciating.”

What are your hopes for Myanmar’s future?

“I want the leader of the country to rule the nation with love – whomever the ruler is…They should listen to the people, then Myanmar would be a country with happiness.

“I would like to thank the leaders of the international community who are supporting Myanmar. Also, I want to urge them to keep supporting us. Sometimes I feel like they are slow [to take action] and because of that people have lost their lives and the fighting has not stopped. Please don’t ignore Myanmar.”

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Nun begs military to stop shooting

‘I don’t feel the international community has taken the situation seriously’

Nay Myo*, 29, is a journalist in Yangon.

“The coup has affected our profession because we’re unable to go back home as the junta has been targeting journalists. The coup has taken our freedom of expression away. There are many things we have lost, including freedom.

Nay Myo Pic sent by Siobhan Robbins
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Nay Myo is a journalist in Yangon.

“Many things are difficult now. We can’t go anywhere freely. SAC [junta] troops are everywhere in the city. We had to run away during the protests. Our social media accounts are now being monitored. We are in hiding.

“Even in the last moments of January 2021 [the night before the coup], I was with my media colleagues and we were having fun after work. Even though we were experiencing a COVID19 outbreak, we had some freedom. But now, we have nothing.

“The positive thing is people [around the world] are noticing and understand that we are losing our rights in the country. They recognise people are being oppressed.

“I don’t feel the international community has taken the situation seriously. Myanmar’s junta has never cared about the international community, even though people in the early days wanted international troops [to fight against them].”

Military in Yangon Pic sent by Siobhan Robbins
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The military seized control of Myanmar after the 2020 election

How do you see the future in Myanmar?

“There will be a lot of changes and improvements if the [anti-junta] revolution is successful in the future….it’s good as the next generation won’t have to hear the word junta anymore.

“I don’t want to face dictatorship any more and I don’t want future generations to have to either.”

‘The military coup is totally unacceptable’

Shar Yamone Siobhan Robbins
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Shar Yamone is a pro-democracy political activist in hiding.

Shar Yamone*, 29, is a pro-democracy political activist in hiding.

“When the coup happened, as a young person, our daily life, family life, rights, future and opportunities were destroyed.

“The military coup is totally unacceptable. That’s why we have joined the revolution. This revolution is not for one group but for everyone.

Shar Yamone Siobhan Robbins
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Ms Yamone said that every person in Myanmar is ‘encouraged to fight against the junta’

“After February 1, 2021, our gold-coated democracy was looted. Successive governments brainwashed the people in our country.

“People’s views and understanding have changed since the coup. They now are speaking out loudly about unfairness, oppression and rights abuses. Their revolutionary spirit is stronger.

“Young people living in bubbles before 2021 are now giving their lives for the revolution. Some people cannot see or be united with their family – this is the main difference to before the coup.

Shar Yamone Siobhan Robbins
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Many people in Myanmar have been forced to flee

“If people asked me what I would like to do now, I would say I want to go home and live with my family peacefully.

“Living under the junta that has been oppressing people is the most dangerous thing for us… [it is] like gambling our lives all the time.

“The future of the people is the future of the country. If each of us is encouraged to fight against the junta, we will reach the light of our goal of federal democracy.

“If we don’t give up and then we will reach our goal.”

Shar Yamone Siobhan Robbins
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The junta has been accused of widespread human rights violations

What are your hopes for the future?

“I want to have a government that will ensure the mental and physical safety of the people.

“Some countries are cutting the ties with the junta in terms of imposing sanction and that kind of thing.

“At the same time, some countries are still working with the junta. We can’t hope for help from others.

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“We have to rely on ourselves. Our people’s voices and courage need to be listened to and paid attention to by the international community.”

Sky News contacted the military authorities in Myanmar to request an interview and comment.

At the time of publication, they had not responded.

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