Youth strike at Mawlamyine, Mon State. Photo: courtesy of Mawlamyine's Voice.
Youth strike at Mawlamyine, Mon State. Photo: courtesy of Mawlamyine's Voice.

Resisting a coup

How civil society is responding in the face of escalating violence in Myanmar.

On 1 February, the military seized control of Myanmar after detaining National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders, claiming that recently held elections were neither free nor fair. The move was widely condemned by the people of Myanmar, many of whom continue to take to the streets in protest. Yet much of the coverage of the coup and the ensuing violence has focused on the country's largest city Yangon, and not on the situation in other states. This week, Himal Southasian interviewed Nai Aue Mon, Programme Director of the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM), a grassroots civil-society organisation in Mon state, southern Myanmar. He describes the unfolding crisis in regions outside the capital, and how the country's civil society is responding to the military's escalating violence. The interview includes inputs from Maggi Quadrini, editor and senior researcher at HURFOM. Below are excerpts from the interview. 

Himal Southasian: Much of the media coverage on the unfolding military coup in Myanmar has focused on events in Naypyidaw and Yangon. But what is the situation like in the areas you cover, in the Mon, Karen and Dawei region?

Nai Aue Mon: Since the military coup on 1 February, the situation has changed a lot in the areas you mentioned. Protests began on 6 and 7 February in Mon State, and then Dawei and Karen States shortly after. There is a lot of support to delegitimise the military's seizure of power, and the civil-disobedience movement has gained significant momentum. Since 15 February, several people have lost their lives, especially young people. Many more have been arrested and we are worried for them because we do not know what type of conditions they are faced with. According to our documentation, in the areas we cover, there are over 125 people detained and at least nine people have been killed. The military is reacting harshly to the resistance of the people. At the moment, Mon State is not under martial law, but there are movement restrictions under Section 144 [of the Penal Code]. There are a lot of direct threats to people's personal safety, including the confiscation of phones, money, motorcycles and property. There are also many checkpoints where police are checking people's phones for evidence of involvement in the protests. People on the ground in our target areas have been facing these direct and indirect threats since 15 February.

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