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Fight Back for Myanmar Democracy

The stop-work protest initiated by nurses and doctors two days after the recent coup in Myanmar is now a massive country-wide movement of young people, factory workers, teachers, engineers and civil society staff. Acts of defiance include a nationwide strike on February 22nd, the noisy banging of pots and pans by neighbours when activists are seized at night, and roadblocks of ‘broken down’ cars aimed at preventing government staff getting to work.
An MYLP alumnus addresses a large crowd of protestors at a rally in his local township

It is estimated that about 30% of public service workers have stopped working, and with the suggestion by one prominent political activist that public service workers will determine the outcome of the protest movement, protestors are now targeting government buildings and housing to encourage employees to stop work and join the protests.

UnionAID has been supporting the Myanmar Railway Workers Federation since it was registered in 2012, when Freedom of Association laws were passed after fifty years of illegality. Their members have also been active in the civil disobedience movement (CDM), lying down on the tracks with other supporters to prevent the military commandeering trains.

Almost 100 young leaders, from nineteen different ethnicities, have graduated since 2009 from the MFAT funded Myanmar Young Leaders Programme. Many are now taking leadership roles in desperate, but peaceful, mass actions to demonstrate their support for democracy. After ten years of fragile democracy they know what they want for their children.

Protesters sit on railway tracks to prevent the military from commandeering the trains

They certainly don’t want to return to oppressive military rule, which previously reduced Myanmar from ‘the rice bowl of Asia’ to one of the poorest countries in the region. And they certainly don’t want their children to be denied decent education, health care, and other human rights, as they and their parents’ generation were.

No-one knows how this will finish but, for many protestors, it is “do or die”. After ten years of transition to democracy, they have seen the possibility of a better future and they want that for their children too.

Please give to the Myanmar Democracy Fight Back Appeal

UnionAID has set up an appeal fund to provide practical support to the fight back: helping civil society in Myanmar organise, train and campaign for democracy, and legal aid and hardship assistance where needed. Our target is $10,000 with over $5000 raised already.

UnionAID supports democratic, worker-led organisations that help empower working people to improve their work and livelihoods through collective action.

Find out more about what we do and how to get involved here or become a Kiwi Solidarity Member now.

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