A Hero of Myanmar’s Spring Revolution

*The Tea Leaf Center is opening up our blog to provide a space and document the voices of those impacted by the recent coup in Burma/Myanmar. The opinions, analysis, and information expressed here are those of the author.*


via twitter @helennsng

(Giving Respect to Kyal Sin and Heroes of the Spring Revolution & Democracy)

A Hero of Myanmar’s Spring Revolution

By: Stephen Nyein Han Tun – Social Science Researcher | Bangkok

While I am having Kyatayo(Thai noodles) at a papaya salad shop, I am reading the news of Myanmar protests and lethal crackdowns by Min Aung Hlaing’s military government in major cities and towns. As I see these abusive and forceful scenes and actions, the information about Kyal Sin[1] and many peaceful protesters get into my thinking. As I watch a video clip of Kyal Sin’s protest, the active participation of Kyal Sin makes me give more attention toward the protest, especially semantics of the term “Spring Revolution”, or Nwe Oo Taw Hlan Ye (နွေဦးတော်လှန်ရေး) from the protesters. The situation also drives me to study more about the reasons behind the coup government’s brutal killing, beating and detaining of over 2,000 peaceful protesters, politicians, students, health and media workers, and civil servants since February 1st 2021.

The words Nwe Oo refers to “Spring” (နွေဦး) and Taw Lan Ye means “Revolution and Demonstration.” The word “revolution” (တော်လှန်ရေး) is suitable for the Myanmar context. This slogan was initially used by the democratic protesters in Yangon and widely spread out amongst generation Z around Myanmar. One prominent activist said that “the protest starts in the early period of summer and will never end until getting back democracy from Tatmdaw regime.” I also discovered that the words “Nwe Oo” are used, valued and prioritised in Burmese culture and well-known poems. Another activist who is a medical doctor clarified that the idea of “Spring Revolution” was adopted from the Ukraine protest’s “Orange Revolution” and it has been used in the Myanmar Spring Revolution context.  (Although it has a different interpretation, we can study many peaceful protesters’ claim that “we will never surrender for democracy” and “Kaba Ma Cha Bu (we never forget/forgive)” 

Thus, although millions of Myanmar peaceful protesters are demanding the immediate release of Daw Aung San Su Kyi and President Win Myint as well as to reestablish democratic government with the rejection of dictatorship, the Tatmadaw regime/coup government are sending more soldiers and police, including snipers to shoot the protesters in the head. The soldiers and police are also brutally and inhumanly beating peaceful protesters, media workers and medical workers who volunteer for emergency responses.

Further, well-known protest leaders, civil servants participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), NLD party members and protesters are forcefully detained and imprisoned. Although some detained protesters have contact with their families, most NLD party members do not. One NLD party member was detained and murdered, and the military finally gave the dead body to their family.

Some Myanmar religious leaders also stand for the peaceful protesters and try to stop the soldiers’ and police’s forceful crackdown. However, this strategy could not save the protesters’ lives. For instance, despite the efforts of a Catholic nun, severe gunshots happened in Myitkyina, Kachin State. Thus, lethal crackdown, brutally beating, gun shooting, destroying, and grabbing the people’s property are the coup government’s action since February 1st 2021.

As a researcher, I can imagine that more a lethal crackdown will be operated by the Tatmadaw coup government when more peaceful protesters  continuously protest. When protesters are cracked-down on and murdered, the anti-coup protests will continue and the democracy movement will increase. As I heard from my friend, “we will protest forever until getting democracy. It will take time, maybe months and years. So, it is starting from this summertime.”

I also discovered that the Tatmadaw regime, Min Aung Hlaing’s government, will crackdown, detain and murder the peaceful protesters and civilians who are against them. Then the Tatmadaw will never punish the soldiers and police who shoot peaceful protesters and other people, as the 2008 Constitution and other laws legitimate this brutality. These soldiers and police might get higher positions for their heartless murders and vicious actions towards protesters and civilians.

Further, the peaceful protesters shout “We love democracy, Release Daw Aung San Su Myi and President U Win Myint.” All these demands will not be accepted by the Tatmadaw regime as the Tatmadaw coercively took power from NLD Government, used their coercive structure political mechanism and charged Daw Aung San Su Kyi and President U Win Myint with violating multiple laws.

The more the peaceful protesters demand and protest, the more forceful crackdown and coercive actions will be operated by the Tatmadaw regime. We can see that the 88 uprisings and 2007 Saffron Revolution’s history, for instance, were ended by beating and murdering the protesters. In the Deepeyin crackdown, U Than Htay, who is now the head of Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), was the Tatmadaw soldiers’ captain for the forceful crackdown. On this day, he became the icon of USDP and reached a high political position in the Tatmadaw community. Thus, crackdown and shooting the peaceful protesters are recognised as legal actions and faithful behaviour for the Tatmadaw and its 2008 Constitution. This is what they can find the solution for the political crisis throughout history.

The coup thus re-restored the Tatmadaw regime’s absolute power in 2021 and secured the wealth of the Tatmadaw top leaders and their community. Under the 2008 Constitution, three general elections have been implemented. The Tatmadaw party, USDP, won the first election without having transparency. However, the NLD party won the second general election in 2016. As there have been many positive changes during the NLD government period, except the Rohingya crisis and ethnic conflicts, the NLD were able to succeed in the 2020 general election. The coup eventually installed the Tatmadaw regime and structure, creating the Tatmadaw Council government and allowing them to rule the country, as power is important for them.

Thus, let me point out that the more protesters claim democracy and do protest, the Tatmadaw regime will operate crackdowns and gun shootings. On the other hand, the more protesters are murdered and die, the more civilians are raising their voices on the streets of Myanmar. This is the spirit of Spring Revolution for democracy in Myanmar. Many young generations, Gen Z, claim that they are fighting for the future. Kyal Sin also made this claim before she got shot by a Tatmadaw sniper in a protest in Mandalay. Most people in the young generation perceive that the Spring Revolution is the way to get democracy from Tatmadaw regime.

As I observe, Tatmadaw never cares about humanity, human rights, minority rights, democracy, freedom of speech and international actions. The international community’s economic and political sanction is ineffective to change and drive out the Tatmadaw regime. Although CRPH and Dr Sa Sa’s political actions have reached high levels of change, the restoration of the federal and democracy movement has been delayed as it lacks collective action, inclusiveness, and unity amongst ethnic armed organisations in Myanmar. Most of the major ethnic armed groups think that the coup is a problem between the NLD government and the Tatmadaw regime, while few of the ethnic armed groups condemn the coup and the forceful crackdown on peaceful protesters.

People, the heroes of the Spring Revolution and Democracy, raise their voices with three-figure-salute at the streets and public for their future while the Tatmadaw soldiers forcefully crack down to get a higher position within the military community, securing power and wealth of the top military junta.

Since 1962, public uprisings happened many times in Myanmar, and in the end the people are detained and murdered by the Tatmadaw. The international community and the United Nations have not taken serious responses throughout the history of coups, public crackdowns and gun shootings to the peaceful protesters in lowland and highland Myanmar. Even for the Rohingya genocide case and over seventy years of ethnic cleansing, there is no action from Responsibility for Protect (R2P), nor is there any military action from first world countries and the United Nations.

However, many young peaceful protesters are hoping to get help from these institutions and countries. Notably, the peaceful protesters never know that Tatmadaw will never give back power to the NLD government. The Tatmadaw will shoot and hunt the peaceful demonstrators, politicians who against Tatmadaw and government officers who join CDM. Then the Tatmadaw will claim that they are shooting and detaining the protesters according to the laws and 2008 constitution.

Many young and peaceful protesters, known as GEN Z, have dedicated their lives on the streets of Myanmar for Democracy. The sign of three-figure-salute, the voice and the social punish method is the weapon of these young generations in the 2021 protest. As I study, many of the young protesters got gunshot at their heads by the Tatmadaw soldiers. This action and behaviour can be interpreted as the Tatmadaw regime’s hatred toward Myanmar civilians who demand democracy and political rights.  However, the voices of peaceful protesters who join the Spring Revolution, with different non-violent strategies, will never be silent for the democracy movement, claiming for human rights and political rights forever.

[1] A Tatmadaw sniper shot the head of Kyal Sin/Angel in the Mandalay crackdown. Kyal Sin is recognised as the hero of the Spring Revolution by the public.