Outed by online campaign, children of Myanmar junta hounded abroad

  • 7 months   ago
Outed by online campaign, children of Myanmar junta hounded abroad
SYDNEY - Protesting alone outside an Australian hospital where the son of Myanmar’s attorney general works as a doctor, Burmese electrical engineer Susu San is determined to let the military junta know their children will be hounded wherever they go.
The 33-year-old woman was hard to miss as she stood in the hospital car park, dressed in a pink track suit, one hand raised in a three-fingered salute of resistance, the other clutching a placard calling for the junta to release Myanmar’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“They think they are untouchable,” said Susu San, having traveled 1,500 km (930 miles) from the northern tip of Queensland to the workplace of one of the “junta children” at a hospital in the small city of Mackay.
“This is a way to empower our people by saying that no one can escape from lawlessness and brutality.”
Since the coup, some protesters have launched an online campaign to denounce family members and associates of the junta in Myanmar and beyond - and spotlight those living comfortably in democratic nations far from the bloody chaos at home.
Organisers say it is a non-violent way to put pressure on the junta to reverse the coup and return Myanmar to democracy.
“The military understands one language. That is pressure,” said Tun Aung Shwe, a member of the Burmese community in Australia who was among a group that has gone to Canberra to urge the government to sanction people affiliated with the junta.
“Social punishment is effective as it shakes up the junta, getting them to rethink what they are doing.”
Repeated calls to the military and government seeking comment were unanswered.
Aside from shaming friends, associates and kin of the junta on social media, activists have also created a website, called socialpunishment.com, information from which has been widely shared on Facebook.
The website features more than 120 profiles of people who are accused of failing to speak out against a coup that has halted 10 years of democratic reform and brought bloody suppression.
It ranks them on a “traitor” scale from elite to low, and there are photographs of the profiled person, details of their associations, and whereabouts on the globe, making it easy for Burmese in those countries to track them down.
As of 2016, there were nearly 33,000 people from Myanmar living in Australia alone.
Susu San said her target at the Mackay Base Hospital was 28-year-old doctor Min Ye Myat Phone Khine.
According to the website, his mother is the junta’s attorney general, Thida Oo, whose office is now crafting legal cases against Suu Kyi. She had served as a permanent secretary in the attorney general’s office during the civilian government, and her acceptance of a role in the junta was seen as a deep betrayal by Suu Kyi’s supporters.
Neither have responded to requests from Reuters for comment, but two days after Susu San’s protest Min Ye Myat Phone Khine posted messages for the first time on his Facebook page since the coup, declaring support for the pro-democracy movement.
“I have come out of the shadow of my parents to walk my own path,” he wrote on March 8, “I will stand boldly with the people because I am only one citizen seeking to achieve a true and fair democracy.”