Nearly six months after Myanmar’s military took power in a coup, people across the country are still enduring daily repression and a wave of fresh COVID-19 infections is making life even harder.
As doctors and nurses support a national civil disobedience movement against the military junta that took power on February 1, Myanmar is in the grip of one of its worst COVID-19 waves since the coronavirus pandemic was declared. More than 7,500 people have died from COVID-19, among more than 274,000 lab-confirmed cases.
Protests over coronavirus have spread to Yangon’s Insein prison, where opponents of the military junta have been held for months. Activists say detainees have led strike action at the colonial-era prison over a lack of COVID-19 safety provisions and healthcare. While the military government points to its recent release of more than 2,000 political prisoners and detained journalists, the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says more than 5,300 people currently remain in detention for their opposition to the coup. It has verified that more than 900 people have been killed since the military takeover.
Dozens of people in Myanmar are now facing death sentences imposed by military tribunals holding what Human Rights Watch last week called “egregiously unfair trials”. Thousands of people across the country are continuing to hold rallies against the military junta which unseated the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD).
Now a shadow government-in-exile is trying to get international support. The National Unity Government, an alliance of activists and politicians that includes some members of the NLD, on June 3 promised it will work to ensure that “everyone in the Union has full enjoyment of fundamental human rights”, and issued a position paper in which it pledges to “actively seek justice and accountability for all crimes committed by the military” against the stateless Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at how people across Myanmar are coping with life under the junta amid a resurgence of COVID-19, and whether the National Unity Government can mount a serious challenge to the military government.
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