A Major Setback to Peace in Myanmar
I got a call a few days ago from a close family friend. She was crying and telling me, “it’s just too difficult to continue hoping for something that no longer seems possible.” This woman is a former member of a liberation army in Myanmar (formerly Burma). She brought her family to the US to seek a better life as resettled refugees. Her family is the reason why our work started in Myanmar 20 years ago. Together with her, we have dreamed about the peace and security that would surely come for her people one day.
In 1962, a growing post-independence government in Burma was overthrown by Ne Win, a chairman of the Burma Socialist Programme Party. This was the beginning of 26 years of totalitarian brutality for the Burmese people; especially the many minority groups that live across the country. 1962 also marks the last year that most Burmese remember a semblance of peace across the country. For over 58 years, the people of Burma (now Myanmar) have hoped and dreamed of a time that insecurity would not dominate their daily thoughts. Unfortunately, these last few weeks have dashed the small hopes of lasting peace that many people there had started to dream of.
On February 1, a desperate and weakened Myanmar military government falsely claimed the recent election as fraudulent and retook power of the country. The results of their November 2020 election were very ugly for the military, showing significant losses across the board. The “democratic” government they had staged since 2011 had grown too popular for their own comfort and it became time for them to stop the charade they had been presenting to the international community.
The military has since disabled the national internet (through force) and conducted nightly arrests of over 400 people seen as opposition to the military. In addition they have intensified their brutal campaigns against the Karen, Kachin and Chin minority groups through aerial bombings in the jungles where many minority groups reside. This is exactly what the military did in 1988 when they murdered peaceful protestors in the streets and started a nationwide campaign to exterminate the minority groups inside the country.
We call on all corporations enabling the military through international investment to leave the country if the military does not stand down. Currently the Myanmar military exists only on the extraction of resources done by Chinese and Western companies.
We are so encouraged to see the brave citizens of Myanmar refusing to leave the streets, and many government and military leaders joining them in protest. We pray that the military refuses orders to attack these peaceful protestors. In addition, we hope that the military realizes their efforts show their insecurity and weakness and that they discontinue these arrests and attacks.
The Global Refuge Project is assessing how we could help to support the Burmese people with access to health programs and income generation in the days ahead. We are assessing needs across the country and will act as soon as we find opportunities where we can help.
We ask that all of you engage this situation with your prayers, time and influence as the Burmese people get very little voice on the international stage. Let’s join them in speaking out about the truth of the situation and for their freedom.