Myanmar Student Union speak out against military dictatorship

“We want to spread awareness so each person can play a small role in this bigger goal.”- MSU Acting President Gadae Aung


Myanmar Student Union

Students and advocates protest in front the San Francisco Federal Building on April 12. Anakbayan Daly City (left), SFCHRP (Middle), MSU (Right).

Eight years ago, Myanmar had what many international observers proclaimed their first free and fair elections in decades, following nearly half a century of military rule.

That all changed on the morning of February 1, 2021, when the military, known as the Tatmadaw, arrested acting State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military has conducted many airstrikes since then, including targeting civilian areas. On April 12, Skyline College’s Myanmar Student Union, together with other human rights advocates protested at the San Francisco Federal Building.

“The protest was against the recent terrorist attack on the people of Sagaing,” said Gadae Aung, acting president of the Myanmar Student Union at Skyline College, explaining that the military wants complete control over the area.

“We wanted to protest against the airstrikes. One of the ways the airstrikes were made possible was because of the fuel trade. Myanmar has been trading jet fuel with Russia, China and India, and the U.S. as well”, Aung added. Chevron along with other major oil companies “are profiting off of our suffering”.

“A lot of people think ‘Oh it’s just something that’s happening in Burma’. No, it is in collaboration with a lot of people, a lot of foreigners, I think one of the first things is we have to be aware of it so we know what is to be done… One of the things we want is sanctions. We want people to talk to government representatives against Chevron’s participation in the Myanmar armed forces’ military effort,” Aung added. “We want to spread awareness so each person can play a small role in this bigger goal.”

“These airstrikes are an attempt to spread fear into the hearts of Myanmar people,” a statement from the group read. “We are gathered here to show that the Myanmar Armed Forces failed to achieve their goals, instead of fear, they have placed anger and instead of fearful compliance, they have strengthened our resolve to see the Myanmar Spring Revolution through to the end.”

“The Myanmar military’s international crimes are enabled by a network of businesses that span the world and provide it with access to funds, arms, and equipment,” said Yadanar Maung, spokesperson for Justice For Myanmar. “There’s a lot that can be done locally to help pressure companies to cut off support to the military, such as boycotts, campaigns against companies and their investors, and calls for more targeted sanctions.”

Maung points out that “Northern Californian tech companies such as Alphabet and Apple host junta propaganda apps in their stores that provide a platform for the genocidal military to earn revenue and spread propaganda.”

“California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS)[…] continues to invest in companies linked to the Myanmar military, like the arms suppliers AviChina and Bharat Electronics,” said Maung.

CalPERS has invested in 4,500,000 shares of AviChina according to their 2021-22 Annual Investment Report, a corporation that Norway’s public fund had dropped in January over its ties to the Myanmar military weapons deals.

“The Myanmar military cartel must be dismantled,” added Maung.