In Part 2 of a 2-part series by Real Stories Not Tales (RSNT), Gu Gu speaks about the impact of the coup on their life.
These posts are part of a collaboration between Tea Circle and Insight Myanmar to publish Report #2 by Real Stories Not Tale’s (RSNT). To read RSNT’s Report #1, visit Tea Circle’s posts here and Insight Myanmar’s posts here. Read Part 1 of this series here. The full report is available for download at the end of this post. Select stories from RSNT’s Report #2 have also been published on Insight Myanmar, and are available here and here. For all posts by RSNT featured on our site, check out the full list.
Gu Gu is a researcher. She was interviewed on July 9th, 2021.
“Before the coup, I was in Loikaw working for a youth organization. The coup was a big blow for me. I couldn’t believe that something like that could happen in the 21st century. First, we protested peacefully, but when the military didn’t listen to our voices, our protest turned into a riot. We had no choice. After repeated clashes with the security forces and a number of students getting arrested, I had to flee into the jungle. Actually, I had kind of expected that when I joined the riot. Since the peaceful way was no longer possible, the path of armed resistance was chosen.
It costs a lot to make a revolution. Anything can happen anytime. When I fled into the jungle, I was very traumatized. Everything hurt. I was very weak. I was always sad and worried that I would not be able to get through this. At that time, the most encouraging thing was the support of the people: donations, food. When we needed to go down to the villages, the people would guard us and guide us. Seeing them welcome us with a smile was motivating like nothing else. It felt like we were one.
I used to have many hopes and dreams for Myanmar. I was preparing to study abroad and take part in the country’s reforms and development. But now, instead of sitting in my office, I am surviving in the jungle. Instead of using my hands to work on the computer, I am bearing arms. I have to flee from one place to another without a permanent address. Everything has changed, and I hate that it’s happening. Leaving my family and living in the jungle without internet is horrible. I am worried about them. When I return home, I feel like a stranger. And there is no safety: police cars and military trucks are parked at every corner. I am mentally and physically exhausted.
It has been more than six months now since the coup. More people have been arrested. Some girls have been threatened with rape. We have lost more than 60 members, but the military has lost hundreds. At some point, there was a big disagreement between two rioting groups in Loikaw. The first group was mostly made up of National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters, and its slogan was ‘Overthrow the military dictatorship’. The second group was led by Karenni youths, and its slogan ‘Resist all dictators’ called for a boycott of any kind of dictatorship that ignores the country’s ethnic voices, whether it’s military- or civilian-led. Actually, the first group did not really understand the second group’s slogan, and the tension between them soon escalated. In the end, the two sides were able to negotiate and join forces.
If I survive the revolution, I would like to participate in the rebuilding of my country. I do not think the previously held peace process can continue any longer; it wasn’t really bringing any results, so we just have to try something new. As long as the military holds political power in Myanmar, we will have to live under oppression and in poverty. But the biggest goal now is to eradicate all dictators.
In the future, I want to see Myanmar as a federal country, not dominated by a single ethnic group. The current political situation highlights ethnic issues, because ethnic people have been experiencing similar conflicts for many decades yet they kept being ignored. It is important they finally get the opportunity to express their feelings and visions for Myanmar. I want the National Unity Government (NUG) to build a country where researchers can work freely and thus help nation-building. There is a quote from a teacher that I really like and hold on to: ‘Revolution without people’s support will never succeed.’”
Real Stories Not Tales (RSNT) is a dedicated team in and out of Myanmar that aims to bring awareness to the reality of young people’s lives since the Myanmar military staged a coup on February 1st, 2021. Stories are collected through interviews with each protagonist by the team, either in Burmese or in English. Each character is drawn by a professional illustrator bringing a visual context to the story. RSNT is an anonymous name that is used by the group to guarantee security to all parties involved in the collection of the stories.