What about Myanmar?

Freedom is not free. It never was. And it should never be taken for granted.

Anyone who has lived through a war knows this. Anyone who has lived under an oppressive government knows this. Anyone who has lived through the pandemic knows this.

While some of us may have been born into freedom, it was not given to us for free. It was fought for through war, resistance, and the ultimate sacrifice. Freedom can take years to achieve. But it can easily be stripped away from us. In a second.

While there are those who were born into freedom, there are others who have never tasted freedom before. And there’s no telling when they ever will.

My friends in Myanmar are feeling this. They are at the mercy of a ruthless military regime, yet again. History does indeed repeat itself.

History in Myanmar started repeating itself a few weeks ago. The messages flooded my inbox. The updated news notifications popped up on my phone. That same feeling came back to me. The feeling of being punched in the gut. The last time I felt this way was in August 2017 when I received 13 missed calls from my Rohingya friend. Those calls were to tell me of the military attack on her family’s village in Myanmar. They fled to Bangladesh, which is what led me to go to there and find her family.

And here it is again. My friends are calling me in a panic, unable to reach their family members. Myanmar’s military is — and has been for quite some time — in control of the country. They always carried the power, but in recent years, were disguised under a “democracy” – but it was never really a democracy. That was all for show. De-facto leaders had guns to their heads with very little power to do or say anything.

And this military coup shines a light on where the power has always been. The power is with the same ruthless military that launched systematic attacks on their own people for years. The people of Myanmar are being stripped of the very few freedoms they had. Social media platforms are censored and banned. Freedom of speech is gone. Strict curfews are in place with severe punishments. We are quickly falling back into the dark ages — the times before freedom. The times before people had their voice.

The people are using everything they can to stand up to the military. They are taking to the streets, they’re making their voices heard. But is it enough?

This is when the shooting starts. It’s already started. And as hard as it is for me to say, it’s easy to see where the winners are here. One side has guns and the other does not. Since the dawn of mankind, we know which side will win.

This situation does not just involve the people in Burma. This is something much bigger, and I feel it will affect us all. If a government like Burma’s can get away with this, with the involvement of outside countries supporting their cause, there’s no telling what else will happen. Too many times have I seen people being walked all over by their own government. Completely powerless under a powerful regime that dictates everything. These government entities have been testing their people to see just how far they can push them into submission. It’s only a matter of time when all freedoms are stripped and they are where they started. Living in a military dictatorship.

A few brief statements by international governmental bodies condemning these actions aren’t going to make a huge difference. This soft-power diplomatic approach won’t work this time. There needs to be some action taken to fight for freedom. I fear what that may look like….but I also fear for the people struggling to survive through a pandemic and military coup.

This pandemic has caused enough political turmoil, threatening freedom around the world, not just in Myanmar. We’ve watched our world go into absolute chaos. We’ve seen governments abuse their power over the people. And I fear it is only going to get worse.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be taking interviews from my peers & students currently living in Myanmar. They will be sharing about the current situation and their opinion on what’s going on. Please stay tuned to hear their stories!