In March 2021, the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) received presentations by Rose Saline and Phil Robertson on “What is Happening in Myanmar”. They both returned on May 4 to provide an update on the continuing situation.
Rose is from Myanmar and formerly worked at the Myanmar Embassy to Thailand. She previously spoke about what was happening to her friends and family. Their situation continues to be full of danger and many hardships. She again spoke with feeling while she displayed both pictures and some of her own drawings/paintings depicting the horrors her friends and family have experienced.
One of her friends was forced by the military to be a beast of burden. Underfed and overworked, he eventually committed suicide. She also mentioned some of the atrocities committed by the military when they invade a village, so now most of the people run and hide before they arrive. Some of the pictures she showed were quite gruesome as they showed friends and neighbors after they had been killed by the soldiers. She also mentioned that children aged 9 and above are being taken away to serve in the military.
Rose talked about her efforts here in Thailand to help her family and friends by providing money and clothes on a monthly basis. MC Ren Lexander at the conclusion of her talk noted donations were being accepted to help Rose in in her effort.
Following Rose’s presentation, Phil Robertson began his presentation. Phil is based in Bangkok and is the Deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch. In his previous talk he spoke about the crackdown and abuses of human rights in Myanmar by the military general heading up the junta that took control from the democratically elected government. The National League for Democracy (NLD) had overwhelmingly won another election in opposition to the military backed party’s candidates.
Although under the constitution the military automatically had a specific number of seats as well as control of certain key ministries, they claimed election fraud and took over control arresting Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the NLD and other leaders of the elected Government. She and others that were arrested are still held in detention and have since been convicted of certain alleged crimes with more charges pending.
Phil noted that Rose’s presentation illustrates the current conditions and that many from Myanmar are in Thailand also experiencing the stress, pressure, and anxiety about their friends and family. One major change since his last talk is that that Burma (Phil prefers to use Myanmar’s former name) is no longer a major news event. It has been replaced in the news media by the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Consequently, the atrocities and abuse of human rights in Burma continue unabated but with less exposure. Even so, Phil believes that eventually, the generals will need to accept the will of the people.
Phil reiterated much of what he said in his previous presentation regarding the generals misunderstanding of conditions that currently exist with the population. Unlike previous military rule the protestors did not just fade away. After several years of lessoning of restrictions and a better economy, the protests against their rule did not go away. There was a general strike by professionals and others which is continuing today.
Likewise, with the greater availability of mobile phones, the oppressed population are voicing their opposition on social networks such as Twitter including posting photos and videos of the military’s abuses. There is also a government in exile that calls itself the National Unity Government (NUG).
Phil noted that many of the ethnic groups favor a federal government system wherein they have a voice. The formation of a federal form of government is supported by the NUG. Further, the NUG has created a Peoples Defense Force (PDF) which is taking action against the military not only in the hinterland but also in the cities including the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Thus, there is in essence a civil war in progress which will continue, maybe for years. It is always the darkest before the dawn, but eventually, he feels that the people will prevail and the military will have to relinquish much of their power.
MC Ren Lexander brought everyone up to date on the latest events. This was followed by George Wilson conducting the Open Forum where attendees can make comments or ask questions about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya. For more information visit the PCEC’s website at https://pcec.club.
Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzjrU3A8Xus for the video of Phil’s current presentation and visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guwBXLvRZ1Y&t=105s for the previous presentation on March 31, 2021.