The people of Myanmar continue to resist the military regime as best they can and at immeasurable cost. Most government and transport workers, teachers, doctors and nurses, and many, many others are on strike. And now the COVID-19 epidemic is ravaging the populace. Vaccinations, oxygen, medical supplies and empty hospital beds have all along been nearly nonexistent. Even sufficient foodstuffs are becoming harder to find as prices begin to soar. Banks have introduced limits on withdrawals, so cash also is in short supply. Meanwhile, the military offers no assistance. On the contrary, arbitrary restrictions and violence perpetrated by them against civilians have become commonplace, and the concern now, as evidenced by recent events, is that the military is preparing a much larger and deadlier offensive in numerous areas throughout the country.
The people are now facing a catastrophic third wave of the COVID virus, and the military is clearly attempting to take advantage of the pandemic by weaponizing it. Lockdowns, which have been instituted in key areas of the country, particularly in Mandalay and Yangon, as well as in numerous ethnic areas, are now being used to further identify, arrest, and imprison those who continue to resist. Many more soldiers and military vehicles have recently moved into both the Yangon and Mandalay regions, so there is little doubt that people’s suffering will only increase.
In this rapidly deteriorating situation, there is a dire need for many things, with a primary focus on food for the poor. Also badly needed are medicines, medical and surgical supplies, oxygen, oxygen generators, electrical generators, and support for the thousands of incarcerated political prisoners and for the war-torn ethnic areas. The list goes on and on. Fortunately, there are still ways to get money into the country that will allow people to stockpile necessary items, but the window to do so is clearly closing. As I write, the military is taking further steps to exert even greater control over many of the items mentioned above as the value of the local currency continues on a downward trajectory.
What has happened here over the past six months has been a travesty in terms of basic human rights, and cannot be allowed to continue. That the regime disregards the will of 85 per cent of the voters, imprisons most of the elected officials, and tortures and kills its own citizens, should not, and cannot, be allowed to continue. Governments, governmental organizations and multinational corporations have not done nearly enough to put an end to this ruthless dictatorship. It is now time for the people of the world to stand up and say that such ruthlessness can no longer be tolerated in Myanmar or in any other country.