As ordinary, the workers of Mom Jones is rounding up the heroes and monsters of the previous yr. Discover all of 2021’s heroes and monsters right here.
On February 1, households throughout Myanmar, already exhausted like the remainder of us from a yr of pandemic demise and catastrophe, awoke to an entire new stage of catastrophic hell that, even months later, is tough to grasp.
Within the early hours of morning, the Myanmar navy launched a coup and arrested Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose Nationwide League for Democracy occasion had just lately received democratic elections in a landslide. Military generals—who previous to 2011 dominated the nation in successive dictatorships for half a century—justified the most recent takeover with baseless claims that the election had been a sham, echoing Donald Trump’s false rhetoric about voter fraud in the US. The military led by Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing quickly shut down cellphone traces and folks’s entry to the web, similar to the outdated days below the previous junta.
Within the weeks after the coup, tons of of 1000’s of individuals throughout Myanmar flooded the streets to protest, demanding the navy step apart and permit Suu Kyi’s authorities to renew energy. The generals responded as they all the time have—with violence. Safety forces fired water cannons, rubber bullets, and stay ammunition at peaceable demonstrators, openly gunning down individuals within the streets, together with dozens of kids. Headlines unfold of unimaginable tragedy: a 13-year-old lady shot lifeless inside her house, and a five-year-old boy combating for his life after taking a bullet within the head. The police killed six-year-old Kin Myo Chit whereas she was working towards her dad throughout a raid on their home.
After the coup, I started to listen to from the Myanmar journalists I’d as soon as labored with in Yangon, the place I used to be based mostly previous to coming to Mom Jones in 2014. “We’re below the boot once more,” my former boss wrote to me in an electronic mail. “No extra security for us. Getting ready for the worst,” one in all my different former colleagues wrote. “Pls pray for us,” she added earlier than signing off. “Solely God may help us.”
Around the globe, Myanmar expats and diplomats watched in horror as protesters contained in the nation shared movies of the atrocities that they’d recorded with their cellphones. Some footage confirmed safety forces beating individuals within the streets or dragging corpses alongside the bottom. Different movies on TikTok had been uploaded by the troopers themselves, seemingly taking pleasure of their brutality as they pointed their computerized rifles on the digital camera and danced. UN officers and human rights teams condemned the bloodbath as crimes towards humanity.
However the bloodshed didn’t finish. As of mid-December, Myanmar safety forces had killed greater than 1,300 unarmed individuals for the reason that February coup, together with not less than 75 youngsters, based on the Help Affiliation for Political Prisoners, an activist group that maintains a extensively cited tally. Killings and torture in July led to the latest discovery of mass graves. On December 6, the navy succeeded in convicting Aung San Suu Kyi on spurious prison prices like incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions, sentencing her to 2 years in jail. She is going to be a part of 1000’s of different activists, politicians, and journalists who’ve been incarcerated by safety forces.
And the violence solely seems to be escalating. Earlier this month, after Myanmar troops suffered a bomb assault within the nation’s northwest, they rounded up civilians, tied them up, and burned them alive. 4 of the victims have been 17 years outdated, one was a paraplegic, and not less than one was 14, based on a list of the lifeless. “The sheer brutality, savagery, and cruelty of those acts reveals a brand new depth of depravity,” a spokesperson for Myanmar’s underground Nationwide Unity Authorities, composed of Nationwide League for Democracy members and different pro-democracy politicians, instructed the Related Press.
2021 is clearly not the primary yr that Myanmar’s military would deserve the title of monster. Throughout the navy’s half century of dictatorship, from 1962 to 2011, the generals and their minions recurrently gunned down pro-democracy protesters and waged decades-long wars towards ethnic minorities. Even after Suu Kyi’s occasion received nationwide elections in 2015, the navy retained management over among the strongest authorities companies and launched a genocidal marketing campaign towards Rohingya Muslims. However the navy’s brutality this yr has wrought new ranges of terror and complication as a result of it unfolded in the midst of a pandemic, when a lot of the remainder of the world was distracted by their very own struggling. Because the coronavirus unfold in Myanmar, which gained entry to vaccines at a a lot slower clip than the US, the junta’s troops went out of their technique to goal medical doctors, a few of whom had helped arrange the protests. As Mom Jones‘ David Corn reported, safety forces shot at hospitals and harassed medical personnel. All of which, whether or not deliberately or not, discouraged coronavirus sufferers and others requiring care from looking for therapy.
Together with medical employees, the navy went after reporters. It banned main media organizations in early March, together with Myanmar Now, the Democratic Voice of Burma, Mizzima, Khit Thit Media, and 7Day Information, the most important newspaper within the nation. Troopers broke into newsrooms and arrested dozens of journalists, together with the American managing editor of Frontier Myanmar. That editor, Danny Fenster, was launched in November after five-plus months in jail. However many Myanmar reporters haven’t been so fortunate. Simply this month, a photographer who documented a latest protest died within the navy’s custody after regime troopers arrested him in Yangon.
Regardless of these assaults, journalists in Myanmar haven’t give up protecting the atrocities, and for that cause they’re amongst my private listing of heroes for the yr 2021. Because the junta shut down main shops, smaller community-based information boards sprang up—not solely protecting the protests in rural areas, however doubtless maintaining individuals alive by informing them of navy raids. Many of those citizen journalists lacked formal coaching once they began their work, and so they lined the publishing prices out of their very own pockets, digging into their life financial savings; some had to enter hiding as a result of they have been being hunted by safety forces.
On December 10, the US introduced further financial sanctions on the Myanmar navy junta. However the Biden administration has fallen far wanting what it might do to assist the Myanmar individuals, as a result of it nonetheless hasn’t restricted the power of a large US firm—Chevron—to revenue off the Myanmar navy and its brutality. For a few years, Chevron has labored with Myanmar’s state-owned power firm, raking in additional than $100 million yearly in consequence. That power firm is the most important supply of funding by far for the navy.
Because the coup, Chevron has despatched a staff of lobbyists to Washington, DC, to persuade the State Division to not approve any sanctions which may disrupt its profitable enterprise in Myanmar. So if we at Mom Jones have been to maintain increasing our listing of 2021’s monsters, these American oil execs would doubtless earn a spot, together with the worldwide arms producers that proceed to promote weapons to the Myanmar junta even because the demise toll climbs and climbs.