Here’s who is standing up against Myanmar’s coup

Coconuts Yangon
·4-min read

While enough condemnations pour in from abroad to fill a hot air balloon, multinational companies are sending a message to Myanmar’s bottom line while the public finds brave and creative ways to show they reject the military coup d’etat.

From Japanese firms suspending domestic operations to doctors and nurses holding a symbolic nationwide strike, a message is being sent to the newly installed junta that there will be consequences for overthrowing the government.

Dollar diplomacy

Myanmar’s grown to depend on growing foreign investment, so it was a blow when several Japanese manufacturers shut down their factories in response to Monday’s putsch.

One was auto giant Suzuki, which, through its domestic companies, has invested MMK153.5 billion (USD$114.2 million) in the country since 2013, building two factories. Its second plant opened about two years ago in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone on the outskirts of Yangon to meet increased local demand.

“We have not yet decided when we will resume production,” a company spokesman said Tuesday. Toyota, one of about 400 Japanese firms operating in Myanmar, said it was re-assessing plans to begin construction of its first plant in the country.

Suzuki was joined by Toyo Ink in suspending operations, while Toyota, one of about 400 Japanese firms operating in Myanmar, said it was re-assessing plans to build its first plant in the country.

Thailand’s largest industrial estate developer, the Amata Group, also suspended a project valued at USD$1 billion on concerns that international sanctions would drive foreign investors away.

Bad for health

Personnel at Yangon General Hospital today participate in a a show of defiance.
Personnel at Yangon General Hospital today participate in a a show of defiance.

Those fighting on the front lines to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to heel publicly rebuked the military by refusing to work today. Doctors, assistants, specialists, nurses, dentists and others pinned red ribbons to their smocks and walked out at more than 70 hospitals in more than 30 cities nationwide.

Digital Dissidents

When the military relinquished power 10 years ago, few in Myanmar had internet. Now social media is the lifeblood of public discourse, and Myanmar’s netizens have been seething online, where hashtags such as #SayNototheCoup and #CivilDisobedience have been trending. Facebook groups such as Civil Disobedience Movement have been established to communicate and coordinate. People have been adding red frames to their profiles and posting fervent objections to the dictatorship. University student unions have been united in condemning the military’s actions.

Locked down but furious

The civilian government led by the National League for Democracy not only enjoyed a broad base of support, but its leader Aung San Suu Kyi is widely revered. Wide swathes of the public angry about the seizure of power showed their dissatisfaction last night by drumming tin cans and kitchenware from their homes last night, starting at 8pm.

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Celebrity on the line

While few famous figures have showed opposition to the dictatorship just across the border in Thailand, a slew of Myanmar’s household names have staked out their opposition.

Model-actor Paing Takhon was among those to don red and flash the three-finger Hunger Games salute popularized by Thai dissidents today. The growing trend also drew top model Nang Kae Mar.

J-pop idol Morisaki Win, who is of Burmese descent, took a pic of ASSK arrest on public trains on his instagram story and urged people to keep the peace.

They got support from overseas A-listers such as Rihanna, who retweeted a Human Rights Watch call for action, saying “my prayers are with you #myanmar!,” along with Gemma Styles and Jay Park.

Ethnic factions reject coup

The leaders of 10 armed ethnic groups to sign ceasefire agreements issued a joint statement protesting the crisis created by the coup d’état. At a joint meeting yesterday, the secretary-general of the Karen National Union and others said the coup would not have a positive impact on the country.

“These leaders are not just ordinary leaders, they are representatives of our people, and their legitimacy lies behind the fact that the people voted for their NLD leaders on the basis that they can actively lead the cause of democracy,” Pado Pado Saw Ta Do Moo said.

The 10 groups called for the immediate and unconditional release of all detained civilian leaders.

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This article, Here’s who is standing up against Myanmar’s coup, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.