INTERVIEW: ‘After three years … it is impossible for these dictators to win’

On the third anniversary of Myanmar’s coup d'état, prominent activist Tayzar San assesses the people’s revolution against the regime.
By Htet Htet Eindra Aung for RFA Burmese
2024.02.01
INTERVIEW: ‘After three years … it is impossible for these dictators to win’ Burmese physician and pro-democracy activist Tayzar San leads an anti-junta protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, April 10, 2021.
Facebook/Citizen journalist

Burmese physician and pro-democracy activist Tayzar San has been a leading figure in Myanmar’s ‘Spring Revolution,’ a series of protests that began in early 2021 in opposition to the coup d'état that ousted the elected government. He organized the first public street protest against the coup in Mandalay, sparking a string of similar peaceful demonstrations across the country. 

On the anniversary of the Feb. 1, 2021, government takeover by the military, Tayzar San, 34, and other organizers called for the Burmese people to participate in a fifth nationwide ‘Silent Strike,’ by remaining in their homes and keeping their shops closed for the day. They also called for the continuation of the so-called ‘White Campaign,’ in which people wear white clothing, ribbons or armbands to demand an end to junta rule. 

RFA Burmese reporter Htet Htet Eindra Aung spoke with Tayzar San about the third anniversary of the takeover, ongoing popular strikes and his assessment of where the people’s revolution is headed. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

RFA: What kind of activities will the people’s revolutionary strike forces be engaging in now?  

Tayzar San: The People’s Revolution has been around for three years. When we look back at the three-year journey, we can say that the people have played a key part in the revolution. However, at the end of three years, we all need to continue the revolution. In addition to saying that we support the revolution, we all need to prove it with actual work. This campaign is aimed at encouraging public participation. 

The 'Silent Strike' marking the third anniversary of the Myanmar military coup leaves a street in Yangon nearly empty, Feb. 1, 2024. (AFP)
The 'Silent Strike' marking the third anniversary of the Myanmar military coup leaves a street in Yangon nearly empty, Feb. 1, 2024. (AFP)

RFA: The people also have been called on to participate in the Silent Strike and the White Campaign. How will these activities be carried out?  

Tayzar San: While we are carrying out this revolution, other anti-coup forces are strategically and simultaneously implementing armed struggles and public protests. Everyone can participate in these campaigns to mark the three-year anniversary of the coup. 

The Silent Strike … has demonstrated to the world how unified and enduring this movement is. This campaign can be conducted in both rural and urban areas. The military is also afraid of this campaign. Therefore, on Feb.1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., we will again hold a silent strike.

Our other movement is the White Campaign. We have three main messages for the public. First, while the military council is losing heavily in ground battles, they are killing and bombing civilians in aerial strikes, which is to their advantage. To prevent it, we are conducting the White Campaign to call on international organizations not to sell aviation fuel to the Myanmar military. 

Second, the junta has a need for foreign currency. It’s a battle they are facing on the financial front. Now the junta is collecting taxes from Myanmar nationals abroad for its budget to kill people at home. So, the White Campaign is to alert people not to pay taxes to the junta.   

Another objective of White Campaign is to urge both commanders and lower-ranking soldiers on the ground to join hands with the people as soon as possible. With these three objectives, the White Campaign will be carried out every Monday.  

Tayzar San, seen during a recent interview with Radio Free Asia. (RFA video screenshot)
Tayzar San, seen during a recent interview with Radio Free Asia. (RFA video screenshot)

RFA: Won’t it be difficult for some people to participate in these movements under the current situation?

Tayzar San: Of course. There are difficulties and challenges in any revolution. Particularly, the terrorist army is inhumane and very cruel. For years, the military has repressed its opponents in the most brutal ways in its controlled areas. However, people have not surrendered to them in fear. People have not accepted the bad military bureaucracy. That is why we are conducting this revolution. as we fully believe in the people. 

The people will surely join both the Silent Strike and the White Campaign. On the other hand, the military regime is forcing people to leave their homes on campaign days to make towns and villages appear busy, and they are ordering their supporters to do the same. These are their traditional methods. However, they do not realize that the more they oppress people, the stronger the popular resistance to the military will be. The more they try to rule with fear, the more aware the people become.  

RFA: It’s now been three years since the beginning of the Spring Revolution. What's your assessment of the situation?

Tayzar San: Three years back, at the start of our revolution, some international experts noted that the military was very strong, and they concluded that it would be impossible to remove the junta. However, after three years, they have changed their views. After three years, it is clear that it is impossible for these dictators to win. It is also the time to prove that we can go beyond this three-year span with our unwavering efforts to reach our final goals.  

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Joshua Lipes.

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