This Revolution Belongs to the People

August 20th, 2022  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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The voices of people across all ethnic communities are part and parcel of past and present revolutions: decades-long fight against the remorseless Myanmar military and the unwavering commitment to the future of a federal democratic union.

As communities across Myanmar honored their decades-long revolutions on the anniversary of the 8 August 1988 nationwide people’s uprising, the Spring Revolution carries on the fight against the Myanmar military and the enduring spirit of federal democracy and human rights. Inaction of the international community, specifically the regional grouping of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), not only emboldens the junta to further commit its international crimes, but is far detached from calls made by  the people of Myanmar over the past 18 months.

The 34th anniversary of the 8.8.88 uprising against the Myanmar military saw people across the country and beyond take to the streets to oppose the military junta, despite relentless arrests, persecution, violence and recent executions. In the same week, ethnic communities commemorated the sacrifice of their fallen heroes on Karenni National Resistance Day, Kachin Martyrs’ Day, Mon Revolution Day, and Karen Martyrs’ Day, echoed by statements by ethnic revolutionary organizations (EROs) and the National Unity Government (NUG). The voices of people across all ethnic communities are part and parcel of past and present revolutions: decades-long fight against the remorseless Myanmar military and the unwavering commitment to the future of a federal democratic union.

While the common pledge remains strong, the reality of civilians on the ground is devastating. In Sagaing Region, developments in the last week alone resulted in hundreds of lives lost, civilians trapped in demolished villages or held hostage, and private property torched to ash by the junta’s indiscriminate airstrikes, constant ground assaults and days-long arson. Junta jet fighters bombarded villages in Kachin State and soldiers open-fired on civilians, while almost all houses standing were incinerated. This added to the nearly 28,000 burned residences from 1 February 2021 to 25 July 2022. The junta’s air raids in Karenni State’s Loikaw Township bombed a medical clinic in Daw Par Pa village and killed a 60-year-old patient, in violation of international humanitarian law, forcing children who were studying in the village’s school to shelter in a ditch.

Against this backdrop, Myanmar’s neighbors, particularly those with shared borders, face consequences of the junta’s ongoing terror campaign. The influx of people fleeing from the junta’s brutality not only triggers urgent needs for humanitarian assistance outside Myanmar and for neighbors’ cooperation to facilitate cross-border aid, but also exacerbates the chronic human and drug trafficking problem. These countries have witnessed the mass displacement from Myanmar into their borders over the past three decades of the military’s violence against ethnic communities, and have allowed international humanitarian assistance channels to deliver aid to those in need both within Myanmar and along the borders. Yet, they now indicate the lack of political will to continue — knowing full well the military’s ongoing violence is far more fierce than the past and the humanitarian crisis is deepening.

The longer the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar endures, the worsening impacts the regional and international community has to weather. The emergency in Myanmar is a regional security issue; the solution requires an approach grounded in calls of Myanmar people.

Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have rejected or launched domestic crackdowns on people escaping the plight from Myanmar. Innocent civilians face pushback, arrests and persecution — in flagrant contradiction to leaders’ promise to provide protection and humanitarian assistance and in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. What the refugees from Myanmar seek is no more than temporary protection; their determination to return to a federal democratic Myanmar with guarantees of human rights perseveres.

The international community, especially ASEAN, is seized by a dilemma in its current policy toward Myanmar. On one hand, their inaction which fails to quash the military junta’s heinous violations or to secure accountability for gross crimes, only emboldens junta forces to further terrorize not just Myanmar but the whole region. By hiding behind the Five-Point Consensus, neighboring countries and ASEAN states, and to a wider extent the international community, continue to face the repercussions of the influx of refugees, loss of commercial interests, and reputational damage while allowing more loss of innocent lives on the ground.

On the other hand, individual ASEAN members and its Dialogue Partners benefit from maintaining close defense and business ties with the military junta despite its ongoing terror campaign. The Japanese government continues to provide military training to junta soldiers after many soldiers were identified as criminals of war crimes, and a Japanese lawmaker visited the junta leader to discuss bilateral friendship and investment. Dozens of companies in Singapore are found to be connected to arms brokers for the junta and finance the junta’s operations. The international community remains restricted in paying lip service and condemning rhetoric, rather than coordinating strategic, meaningful regional and international actions long called for by voices from the ground.

ASEAN cannot fulfill commitment under its Charter to “maintain and enhance peace, security and stability” as long as the unrelenting inhumane acts by the military junta continue and the people of Myanmar suffer. The world has witnessed the failure of the so-called peace process, which disregards and diverges from the genuine will of people on the ground. Voices of communities, EROs, the NUG, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders — with experiences and knowledge of local context and sentiments, and wills and aspirations for a peaceful future free of military tyranny — must be the basis which shapes the solution for the future of Myanmar.

Ultimately this revolution belongs to and aims to serve the people of Myanmar, not policy makers or national interests of any countries or political blocs.

The international community, including ASEAN as a bloc and as individual states, must respect the repeated calls from Myanmar people to dismantle this criminal military institution: targeted sanctions to cut the junta’s revenue, a global arms embargo, financial and political support for the Spring Revolution, humanitarian assistance through local organizations, and official recognition and support for the NUG.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Myanmar: Re letter to Min Aung Hlaing ahead of the UN Transforming Education Summit in New York

By 386 Civil Society Organizations

Myanmar: ASEAN approach requires a reboot to end horrific crimes by the Myanmar military

By Amnesty International

Urgent Statement on Political Prisoners and Prison Conditions Across Burma

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

BWU Statement on the death sentence for political activists, including (9) women

By Burmese Women’s Union

Photographer Aye Kyaw reportedly dies in Myanmar military custody

By Committee to Protect Journalists

Joint Statement of Dagon University Interim Council, Dagon University Teachers’ Union and Dagon University Students’ Union

By Dagon University Interim Council, Dagon University Teachers’ Union and Dagon University Students’ Union

Atrocity Alert No. 312: Myanmar (Burma), Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and DR Congo

By Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Myanmar: Japan-Trained General Linked to Abusive Forces

By Human Rights Watch

Press Release: Evidence of crimes against humanity in Myanmar escalate, with women and children severely impacted, according to Myanmar Mechanism Annual Report

By Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

Myanmar: Enduring support for growing humanitarian needs

By International Committee of the Red Cross

EXPOSED: 116 companies that have brokered arms & equipment for the Myanmar military

By Justice For Myanmar

(၇၄)နှစ်မြောက် ကရင်နီအမျိုးသား ခုခံတော်လှန်ရေးနေ့ အခမ်းအနားသို့ ပေးပို့သည့် ကရင်နီအမျိုးသား တိုးတက်ရေးပါတီ၊ ပါတီဗဟိုဌာနချုပ်၏ သဝဏ်လွှာ

By Karenni National Progressive Party

Statement on the joint letter addressing the United Nations Transforming Education Summit in New York

By National Unity Government

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရက (၇၂) နှစ်မြောက် ကရင်အာဇာနည်နေ့သို့ ပေးပို့သည့်သဝဏ်လွှာ

By National Unity Government

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရက (၇၅) နှစ်မြောက် မွန်တော်လှန်ရေးနေ့သို့ ပေးပို့ခဲ့သည့်သဝဏ်လွှာ

By National Unity Government

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရက (၄၇) နှစ်မြောက် ကချင်အာဇာနည်နေ့ အခမ်းအနားသို့ ပေးပို့သည့် သဝဏ်လွှာ

By National Unity Government

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရက (၇၄) နှစ်မြောက် ကရင်နီအမျိုးသား ခုခံတော်လှန်ရေးနေ့သို့ ပေးပို့သည့်သဝဏ်လွှာ

By National Unity Government

Statement on the outcomes of the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

(၃၄) နှစ်မြောက် ၈၈၈၈ လူထုအရေးတော်ပုံ နှစ်ပတ်လည်နေ့အထိမ်းအမှတ် ၈၈မျိုးဆက် (ငြိမ်းချမ်း‌ရေး နှင့် ပွင့်လင်း လူ့အဖွဲ့အစည်း) ၏ သ‌ဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society



Myanmar’s Poisoned Mountains – The Toxic Rare Earth Mining Industry at the Heart of the Global Green Energy Transition

By Global Witness

Human Rights Council Fifty-first Session: Report of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

By Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

The Internal Struggle: The Fight for an Inclusive National Identity in Myanmar

By Independent Research Network

Exposed: Companies Brokering Arms & Equipment to Myanmar Military

By Justice For Myanmar

Report of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (A/HRC/51/4)

By United Nations Human Rights Council

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”