To all those upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
On 1 February, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and State Counselor of the ruling National League for Democracy party, Aung San Suu Kyi along with President U Win Myint and other democratically elected politicians and human rights leaders across Myanmar were arrested by the Myanmar military. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, leader of the military in alliance with the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), then declared a state of emergency for one year and instituted military rule.
While the Myanmar military allege this takeover is due to voter fraud in the 8 November 2020 general election, they have presented no concrete evidence to support these claims. They declare their actions are in accord with the 2008 Constitution, but many of the steps they have taken have proven to violate this Constitution. This makes the military regime, and all its government mechanisms, illegitimate. The NLD-led government remains the legitimate government of Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands of Myanmar nationals—in the country, across ASEAN, and around the world—have taken to the streets to peacefully protest. Civilians and civil servants are upholding a Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) by refusing to go to work in all sectors, which could potentially halt the mechanisms of the military-run government.
Meanwhile, the military has arrested and taken violent actions against peaceful dissidents, instituted martial law, imposed draconian curfews, and increased media and internet censorship, even causing a 48-hour internet blackout across Myanmar the weekend of 6-7 February. As of 13 February, the regime has drafted a new law1 that violates the right to privacy both online and offline, as well as freedom of speech and expression. This law enables the regime to impose harsh punishments, especially on youth, for voicing their dissent on social media or even browsing the internet. On February 13th, the military declared a law amending the law on the Protection of Citizens’ Personal Freedom and Security. According to the amended law, the authority can intrude private property without any valid reason. The regime is strategically trying to deteriorate rule of law, incite violence, and inspire terror to prevent peaceful demonstrations. This is a critical moment in Myanmar’s history and future.
The CDM has united most of the ethnic groups in Myanmar, including Kachin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan, Kayin, Rakhine, and others. Together they envision a political landscape with the following four demands ratified by all student unions and the ethnic youth movement:
- Abolition of dictatorship
- Repeal of the 2008 Constitution
- Emergence of a federal democratic union
- Immediate release of detainees
Myanmar student leaders request fellow ASEAN and Asian activists to show their solidarity in this crisis of freedom. We ask that the ASEAN/Asian activist networks continue to advocate through media, policy, organizing to uphold peace and fundamental human rights—in Myanmar and beyond. We also ask activists to petition their ASEAN and other regional leaders to recognize the fairly elected government, refusing all collaborations and economic partnerships with the Myanmar military.
For those in ASEAN and greater Asia, we recognize that Myanmar is not singular in facing these repressions. Across the world, authoritarian regimes are increasing. When the peace of one nation is threatened, the stability of the wider region is also jeopardized. We also seek to uphold your fundamental human rights.
Thank you for building for a better future for Asia.
Standing in Solidarity,
Student leaders of Myanmar