Updated: Feb 7
Media all over the world are reporting the terrifying prospect for the people of Myanmar (Burma) following this week's military coup in the country and the detention of the popularly-elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, her whereabouts unknown.
A United Nations' response has been immediate. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pledged to mobilise enough international pressure on Myanmar’s military 'to make sure that this coup fails'.
Claiming 'election fraud', the Myanmar army has handed power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing, and imposed a state of emergency for one year.
One year? It's unimaginable the amount of trauma and destruction the military could implement over the period of a year - or even longer.
'We will do everything we can to mobilise all the key actors and international community to put enough pressure on Myanmar to make sure that this coup fails,” Guterres announced.
Despite Aung San Suu Kyi's overwhelming support from the people of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, many of her supporters have long mistrusted the military's motives in the country's fragile steps towards democracy, including her release from house arrest in 2010 after detention for 15 years. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate led the NLD to victory in the 2015 elections, advocating democratic reform in a country dominated by the military in a culture of poverty and corruption.
Now Suu Kyi has been charged with illegally importing communications equipment, or walkie-talkies. Hardly a reason to be detained in secret by a military regime.
'Aung San Suu Kyi - if we can accuse her of something - it is that she was too close to the military, is that she protected too much the military,' the UN General-Secretary admitted.
A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State caused more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, where they continue to live in deplorable conditions in the largest refugee camp in the world.
SSOA author, Sao Khemawadee Mangrai, a Shan from the north of Burma, wrote in her memoir about her life under a former military regime and how she and her family escaped to a new life in Australia.
She writes candidly about her life before and after the assassination of Suu Ky's father, the independence leader, General Aung San. On that sad day, sitting beside the General was a Shan chief, Sao Sam Htun, who was assassinated alongside him, one of a total of nine killed in the attack on the government’s Executive Council meeting.
Khemawadee had no idea then that she would later marry his son, who would also suffer under the military regime, thrown into prison without cause for 5 years.
Her memoir was written during a weekly writing class facilitated by Sydney School of Arts & Humanities and published six years ago. Her memories are infused by the beauty of the country and the grace of the Buddhist culture.
Her moving story is available for sale on Amazon Books here.
Text: cvwilliams. Research: Washington Post. Photos: cvwilliams & AP.
SSOA writers' blogs are made possible through the support of City of Sydney grant assistance.