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‘We Need Help’: Local Protesters Join in Global Movement To Raise Awareness About Coup in Myanmar

Just over a hundred people gathered along West Sheridan Road outside the Quinlan Life Sciences Building May 2 as part of a global day of demonstrations to raise awareness about the military coup in Myanmar.

Organizers from groups around the world arranged for May 2 to be Global Myanmar Spring Revolutionary Day, which aimed to mobilize protesters from 14 countries.

Members from the Chicago chapters of groups representing Thailand, Hong Kong and Myanmar joined together in chanting and holding signs.

Joey Ho, a member of Global Solidarity with Hong Kong’s Chicago chapter, said liberation fights bring people of all countries together. 

“When we see other countries fighting for freedom, it resonates with us,” Ho said. “We stand together. United together we are stronger.”

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Protesters hold up three finger salutes as they pose for a picture in front of Loyola’s Arnold J. Damen, S.J., statue.

While the groups increased their numbers by banding together, they sought to draw in even more with their choice of location. Zunzun Moon, a Chicago resident from Myanmar who helped organize the protest, said the organizers chose Loyola’s campus because younger generations have been at the forefront of the battle against the military Myanmar. 

“They are doing the fighting for their country,” Moon said. “University campus is around all the children. Maybe they can feel like us. … Maybe the world can hear us even more.”

Many of the demonstrators held up a three finger salute, which was first used by a protest movement against a 2014 coup in Thailand and has since been adopted by other Southeast Asian protest groups, the Associated Press (AP) reported

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Protesters on West Sheridan Road hold up a three finger salute — a popular symbol in Southeast Asian liberation movements — alongside their signs May 2.

The Tatmadaw — the Myanmar military — took control of Myanmar after its independence from Britain in 1962 and ruled until the country held its first open election in 2015. The winner of that election, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has served as State Counsellor since. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won by a large margin in the November 2020 elections and announced Suu Kyi would once again serve as State Counsellor, the New York Times reported.

The Tatmadaw once again seized control of the country Feb. 1 after their claims of election fraud were dismissed, taking Suu Kyi into custody and charging her with illegally importing walkie-talkies. Since then, charges for breaching COVID-19 protocols have been added, the AP reported.

Since the coup, the country has seen swaths of protests and violent responses from the military. Moon said she has heard gun fire when she was on the phone with relatives still living in Myanmar.

“I can hear the shooting,” Moon said. “I feel like I’m in the warzone.”

Zack Miller | The Phoenix A demonstrator holds a sign on West Sheridan Road, outside the Quinlan Life Sciences Building May 2.

Just hours before the protesters gathered in Rogers Park, the Tatmadaw opened fire on groups of protesters throughout cities and towns in Myanmar, killing eight, Reuters reported

765 have been killed by Myanmar’s military forces since Feb. 1, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a group that has been documenting the violence since the coup.

“I would like to let the world know,” Moon said. “We need help. …  How many dead bodies are needed for action to be taken on this?”

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