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Burmese Saskatonians decry military coup in Myanmar

Khin Htay Yin, a Saskatoon woman from Myanmar, condemns the recent military takeover of power. Global News / Via Zoom

Burmese Saskatonians say they’re deeply worried about people in their home country, following a military coup in Myanmar.

The Southeast Asian country’s military took control Monday under a one-year state of emergency. The military has detained government leaders, including democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won a sweeping victory in the 2020 election.

Read more: Myanmar’s military seizes control of country over election fraud allegations

Several countries, including Canada, have condemned the coup.

“My reaction in the beginning was disbelief,” said Khin Htay Yin, who moved from Myanmar to Canada 23 years ago.

Now, she’s angry.

Myanmar was previously under military rule for five decades, beginning in 1962. During that time, the country became deeply impoverished and thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were killed.

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Khin Htay Yin said her family still lives in Myanmar, and she worries about what will happen to Burmese people under a “corrupt” military government.

Click to play video: 'Myanmar’s military seizes power in coup' Myanmar’s military seizes power in coup
Myanmar’s military seizes power in coup – Feb 1, 2021

“We are really, really concerned about them,”  she told Global News.

She said she supports Suu Kyi.

“During the five years… of (Suu Kyi) governing the country, we’ve seen a lot of development — far more than the last 50 years under a military government,” she said.

Suu Kyi has called for civil disobedience to resist the coup. Some doctors are staying home, Khin Htay Yin said, while Myanmar residents have collectively banged on pots and pans at night.

“(The military) cannot run the system anymore,” she said. “Hopefully they will have to return the power.”

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The military said it took over because the government did not act on the military’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the November election.

Khin Htay Yin is part of a group of Burmese Saskatonians hoping to organize a protest in the coming weeks.

Read more: UN Security Council holds emergency meeting on Myanmar coup but takes no action

Kyaw Lu, who came to Canada as a refuge in 1996, hopes to take part.

Lu was involved in Myanmar’s 1988 student protest movement. Three decades later, he said it’s upsetting to see the country in a similar state.

“I was so disappointed and so angry,” Kyaw Lu said in an interview on Wednesday.

He hopes the Canadian government and other nations can pressure Myanmar’s military to restore democracy.

— With files from The Associated Press

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