Dr. Tayzar San leads an anti-junta protest in Mandalay, April 10, 2021. / The Irrawaddy
Tayzar San, a 33-year-old doctor and librarian, is one of the military regime’s most wanted people and has been hunted by the junta for many months. But despite being in hiding, Tayzar San continues to carry out his mission of eliminating military dictatorship from his motherland.
The junta issued an arrest warrant against him in April on an incitement charge and offered a 10 million kyats reward for information leading to his arrest, the retribution he anticipated since the moment that he decided to get involved in the anti-coup movement.
Three days after the military takeover, Tayzar San led the first anti-coup demonstration in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second city, when many others in the country were still hesitant to take to the streets.
Holding a megaphone at the front of the march, the doctor with the skinny frame boldly challenged the generals who had seized power in the February 1 coup and called for the release of Myanmar’s detained elected leaders. His defiance helped spark larger rallies in the following days and weeks.
The opposition to the coup later became a nationwide revolutionary movement against military rule, prompting the coup leaders to admit that they hadn’t expected such resistance to their putsch.
Tayzar San’s efforts in organizing and leading anti-regime activities led to him being awarded South Korea’s June Democratic Uprising Award, named after the 1987 uprising that led to South Korea’s democratization.
Before the coup, Tayzar San worked as a volunteer doctor at charity clinics and opened a free library with his friends in Mandalay, as well as organizing training for civil society groups. The coup turned him into determined activist devoted to resisting the junta.
Regime forces have attempted to arrest him multiple times during demonstrations, as well as raiding and destroying his home and his native village in Sagaing Region. When the junta raided his home in Mandalay, they seized everything from his daughter’s toys to photographs and his book collection when they couldn’t find him. Tayzar San has been in hiding since he began to organize protests against the military regime. He has not seen his parents, wife and daughter for 11 months now.
“Every person involved in the revolution would face the same more or less. Some people have even given their lives, while some are in prison or have disappeared, and some striking civil servants have been fired,” said Tayzar San.
Today, Tayzar San continues to organize protests and to encourage citizens to continue the fight against military rule. He is also involved in the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), an anti-regime coalition for policy guidance for the parallel National Unity Government (NUG) that is leading efforts to lay the groundwork for the creation of a federal democratic union.
Nearly one year on from the coup, the protest leader is optimistic about the progress of the revolution.
From the Civil Disobedience Movement, which sees civil servants refusing to work for the junta, people boycotting products from military-backed businesses and services and refusing to pay taxes, to armed resistance and persistent street protests, the people’s revolution is moving forward and staying strong, said Tayzar San.
Tayzar San shared his views on the people’s revolution, the current situation and what the future holds in this recent interview with The Irrawaddy.
You began protesting against military rule three days after the coup. How is the situation now different from a year ago?
People including myself took to the streets from early February to show that we didn’t accept the military’s coup. What is different from then is that the belief that our revolution will definitely win has become stronger, and that it couldn’t be more certain that the coup has failed. The last year has proved that people from all walks of life totally reject the military takeover. They have demonstrated that in different ways and continue to do so. The terrorist military regime is unable to govern our people and they cannot control us.
The junta has tried to suppress the opposition movement with violent crackdowns, arrests, torture and killings. But the resistance of the people has stayed strong. Why is that?
Because this revolution is very strong, decent and meaningful. People see this revolution as the final battle to root out the terrorist military that has brought disaster to the country for over seven decades. We don’t want the next generation to experience the same suffering that we and prior generations have experienced. The country should finally be totally free from that. And that is why we believe that it is worth even sacrificing our lives in this final battle. So no matter the regime’s use of lethal force, brutal crackdowns, torture and violence, we will never relax or back off from this revolution. The more they oppress us, the more we will rise.
Are you satisfied with the progress of the revolution?
I am. I would say that it is very satisfying. Because our people are facing the world’s most cruel, and repressive dictator alone with their strength. They [the regime] have tried by force to run its administrative mechanism but have still failed. We also have the NUG and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CPRH), which represent the people, and the NUCC was also formed as a symbol of national unity with the public’s support. In all our history, this is the time when the people have been the most united. At the same time, the terrorist regime is isolated abroad. We need only to continue to try and knock out this terrorist military regime.
What can we expect for Myanmar this year?
We expect and believe to reach a turning point in 2022, a vital historic milestone. This is because we believe in the power of the people. The people have proved that the terrorist military’s takeover is a failed coup. This year will stand as a turning point in the revolution to end their takeover, I will also try my utmost for the revolution.
What you would like to tell the people about how to achieve victory?
My number one priority is to all the people. Yes, victory takes time and we have had to make huge sacrifices. However, no matter what, I would like to urge the people to do anything they can for this revolution with the same unbowed and iron spirit that they have showed in the past year. And it is important that organizations like the NUG, CRPH and NUCC be more united and balanced and take a better lead in the revolution. I would also like to urge those leaders and resistance groups based in ethnic areas to step up the revolution. The people are the key. If our people don’t relax and continue to participate in the revolution this year, we will see the results we want to see in 2022.
The regime has talked about holding a new election and reforming the electoral system, as well as holding talks with some political parties. What is your opinion of that?
Ah, there is nothing special when it comes to that. People know already which parties and individuals are attending the regime’s meetings and what their backgrounds and true colors are. The terrorist military will try various ways to extend its dictatorship and the people won’t be fooled by that.
What you would like to say to the international community?
I always say that the key to the people’s revolution is the people. For the international community, they need to understand well that the terrorist regime doesn’t represent the Myanmar people. They are just war criminals. There is no reason to recognize this military regime as a legitimate government. The international community should also help in establishing truth and justice and holding the regime accountable for its crimes against humanity, and should also help to bring the punishment that the military regime deserves. On our side, the international community can be assured that we will continue to march until we reach our goal. I would like to urge the international community to do its utmost to support the revolution.
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Source: The Irrawaddy