Students Go On Hunger Strike To Pressure UK Government Into Naming The Myanmar Military A Terrorist Organisation
The group are calling on the government to declare Myanmar's military leaders a terrorist organisation
A group of students from Myanmar are taking part in a three-day hunger strike in Westminster to pressure the UK government into declaring the country’s military leaders a terrorist organisation.
They are also calling on ministers to issue temporary “protective visas” for Burmese people in the UK who cannot return to the country following the coup.
Three students are taking part in the 72-hour hunger strike, which has been organised by the Myanmar Students’ Union in the UK and Eire.
In a statement, setting out their demands, the union said that “dreams of a peaceful, democratic, and free Myanmar were shot down by the military forces who staged a coup d’état”.
“The military has also been cutting off the internet, mobile data, banning news channels and only allowing the news channels which broadcast their propaganda to indoctrinate Myanmar civilians and systematically isolate them from the rest of the world,” they added.
Kyaw Min Han, the union’s president and one of the students taking part in the hunger strike, told PoliticsHome he hoped that further intervention from the UK government would give the people of Myanmar “a chance for change”.
“People are getting shot, it’s already at 730 people who have died and more than 4,000 people have been arrested. Even children are getting shot,” Kyaw Min Han said.
The strike is due to end on 27 April, but Kyaw Min Han says it may be extended for an additional 24 hours if the government still does not respond to their demands.
The UK and the US have imposed sanctions against the military-linked conglomerates Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL), as well as imposing individual sanctions against the country’s military leaders.
However, Kyaw Min Han said these measures are “not enough” to impact the Myanmar military as they have other sources of income from trading partners in Asia.
“If they don’t do the action right now, it could be [too] late. They could kill more people. They could do whatever they want in the country,” he added.
Military leaders seized control of the Myanmar government on 1 February and declared a year-long state of emergency, bringing an end to a decade of civilian rule in the country.
The coup took place shortly after a general election returned a landslide victory for the incumbent National League for Democracy (NLD) party and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Armed forces had backed the opposition parties, and the military’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing took power shortly before the country’s new session of parliament was set to begin.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a total of 3,331 people remain under detention and over 1,000 arrest warrants have been issued as of 21 April.
Among those yet to be detained 20 have been sentenced to death and 14 have been sentenced to three years in jail with hard labour.
The AAPP believes that at least 739 people have been killed so far amid the coup, while international rights group Save the Children says at least 20 children have died amid the violence.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been contacted for comment.