Myanmar Photos (above) from Ben Small and India Photos (below) from Google
Escalating attacks on peoples’ rights and on democratic rule have been sweeping Asia Pacific the past few weeks. From the months-long farmer protests in India to the military coup in Myanmar, the region saw the masses’ prowess to take ownership of the streets and assert a just and people-centered development.
The Reality of Aid Network – Asia Pacific (RoA-AP) extends its deepest solidarity and support to the peoples of India, Myanmar, and other countries in fragile contexts as they go through these undemocratic and inhumane attacks on civil liberties and basic freedoms, on top of the multiple crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On February 1, 2021, Burmese military forces have taken over Myanmar’s government in an attempt to foil the recent electoral victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by re-elected Prime Minister (PM) Aung San Suu Kyi.
NDL leaders, including PM Aung San Suu Kyi, and civil society leaders were detained just hours before the first session of the new parliament took place. Military commander General Min Aung Hlaing has urgently taken over the highest seat in the country, declaring a state of emergency for a year, after refusing to accept the last November 2020 election results citing fraud allegations.
Myanmar’s state of emergency is not only a step back for democracy and free speech as major sources of communication (Internet, media networks, and telecommunications) are now under the military’s control. More than this, the state of emergency is a humanitarian problem among Burmese Indigenous Peoples. Nearly one million people in Myanmar depend on aid as government-sponsored ethnic conflicts ravaged the fragile nation. This propelled aid groups in the country to suspend their operations for the safety of humanitarians and other local aid workers.
Meanwhile, Indian farmers took over the streets of Delhi to protest new agricultural laws. Since August 2020, farmers and other sectors have been opposing three farm acts that farmers’ unions tagged as “anti-farmer” policies. Although these laws were already suspended, farmers sustained their protest actions calling for the repeal of these laws and to introduce reforms that genuinely address their long-standing concerns on agriculture and land ownership. The worsening scene in the capital and its nearby cities led to violent conflicts between the farmers and the police, as the latter barricaded roads in an attempt to foil demonstrations.
International multilateral institutions and civil society organizations must support peoples’ movements in asserting that both Indian and Burmese governments must reverse these attacks and uphold peoples’ rights. Restrictions against aid groups that are meant to provide assistance to the marginalized and vulnerable must also be lifted immediately, with thousands of people caught in between these crises are now suffering from further distress and instability.
Specifically, Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific joins civil society organizations and peoples’ movements across the region in calling for 1) the Indian government to repeal anti-farmer laws and address agrarian reform, and 2) the Burmese military to release civil society actors and democratically-elected leaders and to stop all forms of censorship and attacks to human rights, especially Indigenous Peoples rights.