Two years on, Myanmar coup takes a ‘catastrophic toll’

Jan 31 (Reuters) – Two years after Myanmar’s army coup, a younger manufacturing unit employee turned resistance fighter mourns the lack of his leg in battle. A former diplomat has not seen his household in 4 years. A magnificence queen adjusts to a brand new life in wintry Canada. And an exiled instructor desires of returning to high school.

The Feb. 1, 2021 coup, which unseated Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected authorities, has left a path of upended lives in its wake.

U.S-based battle monitoring group Acled says about 19,000 individuals died final 12 months as a crackdown on protests led many to take up arms towards the army.

Some 1.2 million individuals have been displaced and over 70,000 have left the nation, in line with the United Nations, which has accused the army of conflict crimes and crimes towards humanity.

Myanmar’s army says it’s finishing up a legit marketing campaign towards “terrorists”. It didn’t reply to requests for remark by Reuters.

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The tales of 4 individuals mirror a disaster the U.N. particular envoy final week warned was taking a “catastrophic toll” on the inhabitants.


Aye Chan heard the rat-tat-tat of gunfire adopted by an explosion.

“I did not know if I had been hit or not,” the 21-year-old advised Reuters, recalling the army assault final 12 months that price him his leg.

When he tried to face, his legs did not work. A comrade carried him to a hospital the place he awoke to search out one had been amputated from the knee down.

A manufacturing unit employee making immediate noodles earlier than the coup, he had been a part of the large crowds which took to the streets to demand democracy be restored after the coup.

When protest teams started taking over arms, he joined them.

The primary time on the frontlines, his coronary heart was pounding.

“Then I appeared round at my comrades and so they had been smiling and laughing. I used to be not afraid.”

Whereas morale among the many resistance troops is excessive, he mentioned, they’re outmatched by a well-equipped military.

“Once they shoot, they shoot repeatedly, we will’t even elevate our head,” he mentioned. “We have to save bullets as properly.”

Now, he spends most days sleeping, cooking and sharing meals with pals. “I attempt to dwell my life as fortunately as I can,” he mentioned. “I can not do the issues I did earlier than.”

Reuters shouldn’t be disclosing his whereabouts for safety causes.

He has no regrets about becoming a member of the resistance.

“If I recuperate sufficient, I’ll return to conflict. That is till the top.”


Aung Soe Moe, 52, was the primary secretary in Myanmar’s embassy in Japan when the coup occurred.

A month later, he joined lots of of hundreds of presidency employees who stop to affix the civil disobedience motion, which aimed to cripple the army’s skill to control.

His spouse, caught in Myanmar together with his daughter after the COVID-19 pandemic, inspired him to talk out. They later fled throughout the border to Thailand, the place many from Myanmar have sought refuge however have been trapped with out paperwork. He has not seen them since 2019.

Alone in Tokyo, he needed to transfer out of his plush three-bed residence within the embassy grounds. Together with his supply of revenue gone, different Myanmar residents in Japan supplied cash to cowl his fundamentals and lease for a cramped studio flat.

Japan’s authorities prolonged Aung Soe Moe’s diplomatic visa so he may stay in Tokyo, however he cannot work and that visa expires in July. Japan’s overseas ministry declined to touch upon his future standing.

“I suffered so much however there may be nothing worse than shedding the way forward for the individuals in Myanmar,” he advised Reuters.

He volunteers just a few days every week doing administrative duties akin to writing social media posts for Myanmar’s Nationwide Unity Authorities – a parallel civilian authorities arrange after the coup.

He’s anxious the world will neglect about Myanmar, particularly because the conflict in Ukraine.

“However the Myanmar individuals haven’t given up on the reality,” he mentioned. “We are going to by no means quit!”


When the army seized energy, 23-year-old Han Lay was a mannequin about to participate in a global magnificence contest in Thailand.

After protesting with pals, she determined to make use of her platform to talk about Myanmar. The night time earlier than, she couldn’t sleep with pleasure and fear, she mentioned.

On the stage, she fought again tears as she spoke about army violence on a day when greater than 140 demonstrators had been killed. The clip went viral.

In Myanmar, the army charged her with sedition.

She was detained at an airport in Bangkok for a number of days, pleading on social media to not be despatched again to Myanmar.

Finally she flew to Canada and settled in London, Ontario, the place she lives with a Burmese-Canadian household, refugees from the 1988 democracy rebellion additionally crushed by the army.

She mentioned she had been lonely when she first arrived however was adjusting.

“I used to be born in Myanmar, and my household, my pals, and my future, every thing (is) in Myanmar… I couldn’t have an opportunity to fulfill them, I miss them day-after-day,” she mentioned.


A middle-school instructor has been dwelling in a Thai border city since fleeing arrest in Myanmar final 12 months.

A slight lady with lengthy black hair, she joined the civil disobedience motion (CDM) that sprang up after the coup. She requested to not be named, for concern of army reprisals.

“I knew that my life would turn into tough if I joined CDM,” she mentioned. “But when we don’t revolt, it is not going to be OK for our future.”

She joined avenue protests carrying her inexperienced and white instructor uniform, and fled the nation after the crackdown.

Like many Myanmar refugees in Thailand, she is undocumented and lives in concern of arrest.

She ekes out a dwelling crocheting luggage and clothes, incomes lower than $10 every week, and depends on meals donations from the parallel civilian authorities.

“I will probably be a CDM-er til the top,” she mentioned. “An individual must undergo each good instances and unhealthy instances.

Her inexperienced and white uniform is secure in Myanmar, she mentioned, neatly saved, in case of her return.

Reporting by Reuters employees in Asia, John Geddie in Tokyo and Wa Lone in London, Ontario; Writing by Poppy McPherson; Enhancing by Lincoln Feast.

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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