Activists, striking workers ‘don’t trust’ junta’s promise to withdraw lawsuits against them

August 5th, 2021  •  Author:   CDM participants (Myanmar)  •  3 minute read
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Health workers and medical students march in an anti-coup rally in Yangon on February 22 (Myanmar Now)  

‘The day we will come back is the day we will overthrow the dictatorship,’ a student activist says.

By Myanmar Now

A Wednesday claim by the military council that lawsuits against anti-dictatorship protesters are to be withdrawn has been dismissed by the public as insincere and an attempt to cling to power.

The junta announced in state-run papers that civilians in hiding due to fears of legal action were invited to come home and return to their jobs. This included workers striking in accordance with the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), and anti-coup activists, they said.

“[The authorities] have been sending notices that they will arrest us if we don’t come back to work. So we don’t trust this offer. It isn’t being made for our sake,” a university lecturer taking part in the CDM told Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity.

“Their mechanisms have been disrupted. They’re only left with useless bootlickers. No good teacher would want to work under them,” the lecturer added.

The lecturer noted that she was officially suspended from duty in a March 1 statement issued by the military council.

A doctor and township hospital superintendent in Sagaing Region’s Katha District participating in the CDM also rejected the junta’s recent invitation, pointing out that it does not meet their demands for an end to military rule.

“We’re on the side of the truth. We don’t care if they withdraw the lawsuits they’re holding against us so that we can go back to work. We’re protesting because we do not accept the coup. We will keep protesting until justice prevails,” she said.

In mid-July, military officials in Yangon pretending to be Covid-19 patients in need of emergency treatment lured volunteers from a community-based medical response group into a home and subsequently arrested five doctors from the organisation.

In Mandalay, junta troops beat up and arrested two doctors for participating in the CDM.

The military also filed lawsuits against the hundreds of healthcare providers who were among the first workers to join the CDM following the February 1 coup. Unable to locate many of the striking doctors, soldiers frequently arrested and threatened members of their families instead.

Railway workers have also been enthusiastic CDM participants. Win Ko Oo, a train operator from Mandalay, said that the junta has repeatedly tried to lure him and his colleagues back to work.

“The only way they know how to get what they want is through fear. They know nothing else apart from instilling fear. We don’t believe them saying they will accept us back. We can in no way work for them again,” he said.

According to Win Ko Oo, more than 800 out of 1,000 railway personnel in Mandalay have joined the CDM.

Zayar Lwin, a former student union member, likewise told Myanmar Now that students would not be falling for the junta’s propaganda, and were committed to ending the dictatorship.

“The day we will come back is the day we will overthrow the dictatorship,” Zayar Lwin said.

Around 5,495 people arrested since the coup remain in detention as of Wednesday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). Some 1,964 more have warrants out for their arrest.

The military council has declared the AAPP an illegal organisation.

Original Post: Myanmar Now