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MYANMAR

April 12, 2021 IN WIP
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International PEN Melbourne Centre

 

MYANMAR

 

International PEN Melbourne Centre condemns the Myanmar Military Regime’s deadly use of force against its own citizens including poets and journalists since the coup of 1 February 2021. The Military junta has ramped up surveillance of opponents and arrests, including of journalists, writers, and creative artists; and increased violence against protesters. The junta has brought in legal measures and emergency powers to silence and intimidate and to justify its human rights abuses.

Intentional and ongoing internet shutdowns have severely diminished journalists’ ability to do their jobs on the ground.

“When a government turns off the internet, it means that it knows the truth is its enemy.”

We call for the immediate release of all detained journalists.  The junta must cease these violent attacks on press freedom, the silencing of its opponents and the brutal murders of citizens. PEN urges the junta to reinstate the elected government and to respect the fundamental rights of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and rightful access to information.

On 6 April Myanmar’s most famous satirist and an outspoken critic of the military regime, Maung Thura (known publicly as Zarganar) was reportedly arrested at his home and taken to an undisclosed location by junta forces.

 

PEN condemns his arrest and the targeting of media figures by the military junta and we continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested following the military coup.

Statement from PEN Myanmar: 17th March, 2021

Since the Myanmar military seized power from the elected government on 1 February, millions of people across the nation have protested against this illegitimate regime. The demonstrations have brought the young and old out onto the streets. The creativity of their protests has garnered worldwide attention.

Actors, directors, musicians, artists, poets and writers have all lent their talents to strengthen the movement that we call Myanmar‘s Spring Revolution. We have voiced out and performed online and on the street. Myanmar people have called for respect for our votes, release of our leaders, and an end to military dictatorship.

For the last two or three weeks, the military – which refuses to negotiate a solution, in defiance of the wishes of the international community, including the UN Security Council – has clamped down violently on peaceful demonstrators, including shooting them in the head with live rounds. Democratic leaders have been taken away, and their tortured bodies returned to their families. Armed soldiers wander the streets of our cities at night, shooting at random, terrorizing the residents. None of us is safe.

Myanmar’s artistic community has been at the vanguard of these protests: some have been killed and many others arrested. PEN Melbourne is not printing names as there is fear of retribution in Myanmar.

PEN Myanmar has said:

“We know that the situation must ultimately be solved by the people of Myanmar. But we call on the international community to do what they can to support us in our fight for democracy. As creative professionals from Myanmar, we call on our creative brothers and sisters across the world, and from all artistic communities, to stand up and show solidarity with us in our struggle and support those in need!”

Do you want to take Action for Myanmar?

PEN Myanmar and PEN Melbourne suggest that you:

  1. Write to the Australian Government and;

 

  • Urge the Australian government to continue its initial condemnation of the violent attacks on civilians in Myanmar
  • Request the Australian government not to recognise the military regime known as State Administrative Council but to recognise the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Assembly of the Union (CRPH) as the only leading authority of people of Myanmar.

 

Write your letter of concern to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Senator the Hon Marise Payne

 

Email: senator.payne@aph.gov.au

Parliament Office

PO Box 6100
Senate
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Electorate Office

Postal address

PO Box 1420
Parramatta, NSW, 2150

 

  1. Spread the news and information widely about what’s going on in Myanmar to your networks and the general public.

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International