Interview with Ryu

Eaindray is a student activist. She wishes to reform the legal system in Myanmar, and is advocating for federal democracy and greater rights for minorities. She is of Shan ethnicity and spent her childhood split between Taunggyi and Yangon. She is a complete law nerd who loves to read all kinds of books but is currently occupied with the opposing fascist military regimes.

Instagram: @listenupmyanmar

What were your initial thoughts? Did you think you would ever experience something like this in your life?

Well, it wasn’t a complete shock to be honest. The military personnel have been talking about the constitution and coups since last year’s election results came out. Definitely surprised that they would pull something like that in this day and age and I did not expect I would experience something like that in my lifetime. I just feel more angry and disappointed than shocked.

How did the event play out in your daily life: what aspects were affected? Were the impacts immediate, or did they slowly take place? Could you describe one point where you began to feel the gravity of this issue?

There were issues with internet connection and phone lines were cut off the whole morning on the day the coup happened. I guess, yeah, I really did feel the impacts on the very first day. I think I missed my online class that day because of the problem with the internet. I think the gravity of the situation really sank in when the whole Civil Disobedience Movement really took momentum. All these people risked their jobs and their livelihoods to reject a fascist military regime. Then the protests began, and so did the killings. All these people who had families and friends, dreams and fears, their lives snuffed out at the click of a gun, it really drives home not only the severity of what a military rule would mean but also how it affects us all. Some of the people killed weren’t even protesting, just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

What are your opinions & thoughts regarding Myanmar’s political past? (military vs civilian leadership)

I grew up mostly during the civilian leadership. Both were authoritarian and conservative at its core.. Decades of military rule really made its mark of the country and there is just too much damages to be undone. And sometimes I think the civilian leaders took a “ignore the problem and it will go away” approach to a lot of things rather than face them, even if those problems are difficult and painful. It is heartbreaking in a way, seeing what decades of military rule did to my country. Civilian leadership was like the lesser of two evils.

How has your school/educational institution(s) responded to this? How do teachers go about addressing the issue? Are they allowed to speak about it, or speak their thoughts?

I can’t speak for the school as a whole and schools here don’t really tend to release any statements. I’m not sure if the authorities outright restrict teachers from speaking about political issues at school but decades of military’s propaganda and fear-mongering probably stop them from speaking out in public. However I do know that teachers from my school, and other government schools and universities, who participate in civil disobedience movement by refusing to work under military regime are all either being fired or in hiding to evade arrest and coercion by the military.

Coming from someone currently living in the country who’s experiencing this, how do you think media outlets have handled it?

All the state media are controlled by the military so you can imagine how they are handling everything. I think a lot of independent media and journalists have been really doing a great job reporting the actual situation here. It really is very admirable because this is not a great place for media outlets and never has been.

In regards to the previous question, do you think peoples’ efforts to raise awareness about this issue on social media has been successful? Why, or why not?

Absolutely. There were a lot of internet restrictions and despite those obstacles, people have managed to get the news out there to the wider world. Of course I wish more people pay attention to this issue and help spread awareness but I’m truly grateful for all the people keeping an eye on the situation here and praying for us.

Edited by Amy Feng Zhang

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