Myanmar teachers condemn military coup
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 2, 12 March 2021, page no. 26
As the military tightened its grip on their homeland, members of the teachers’ union, the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation (MTF), have taken a courageous stand against those who would threaten their freedom.
The MTF is engaging in civil disobedience, along with others, in protest at the military coup that toppled the legitimately elected government of Myanmar (formerly Burma) on Monday, 1 February. The MTF and other unions have also issued statements condemning the coup and called for the release of arrested political leaders.
MTF President Dr Sai Khaing Myo Tun issued a statement condemning the “trampling of democracy” and the unconstitutional arrest of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and other leaders. The MTF called for the release of all those detained and urged the military to recognise and implement the results of the November 2020 election.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in the elections, the results of which were certified by an independent election commission. The election was also considered to have been free and fair by international election observers. However, the military claimed that there was widespread fraud in the election and established a military government that was to rule for a year.
David Edwards, General Secretary of the global teachers union Education International, backed the MTF in its stance.
“We support the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation and its efforts, with other trade unions and allies, to have the election results and the Constitution respected. We stand with the courageous leaders of the MTF in their fight for freedom and democracy.
“We call on the United Nations and national governments to intervene with General Min Aung Hlaing, who seized power, to free those arrested, accept the results of the Parliamentary elections, and allow the process of democratisation of Myanmar to continue.
“The people of Myanmar should never be forced to return to the isolation, fear and desperation of military rule.”
Burma became independent in 1948. From the beginning, the country has been plagued with ethnic violence, under both democratic and military rule. However, one of the worst periods of oppression has been against the Rohingya people since 2016, with military attacks forcing a million to flee, most of them to neighbouring Bangladesh. The UN found evidence of extrajudicial killings, summary executions, gang rapes, arson of villages, businesses and schools, and infanticide.