Disclaimer: This is a rant. Read at your own peril. But you are welcome to leave criticisms and dispute any or all of my statements.
Imagine claiming you’re an educated, then proceeding to believe every lie fed by some random conspiracy theorists on Facebook.
Today in Myanmar, the many self-proclaimed educated youths have strayed from the main focal point of the protest ever since one big lie started circulating among social media feeds — that is UN & US armed intervention.
The people — both youths and elders alike — started asking for armed intervention under every post on Facebook and Twitter with the message “How many dead bodies before UN intervenes?” and gore pics and trauma-inducing video clips.
But if we rewind time, to the time before all of this started, to the first week of February 2021, people were focusing on CDM, taking to the streets to encourage other civil servants to join CDM and it was hugely popular, successful and peaceful to say the least. Until the bullets started flying.
The bullets didn’t stop CDM of course. But many people shifted their attention from CDM to violent crackdown of the protesters by the military (now internally recognized as a terrorist organization). There’s nothing wrong with bringing international attention to the inhumane acts of the junta but the people took it, maybe, “a tad” too far. The number of CDM support posts have dwindled down. Social media feeds began getting overrun with brutal massacre of the people by the soldiers and police alike. And given the situation, it’s no surprise the number of protesters on the street diminished significantly.
And after a month, in March 2021, the people still haven’t changed their tactics. Some number of extraordinarily brave protesters are still on the street voicing their dissent. On the other hand, the junta was taking every step necessary to convince international community to recognize them as a legitimate government steadily too, most notably their latest stunt to hire Montreal-based lobby company to reinforce their legitimacy in the international community. In the meantime, International businesses haven’t cut ties with the junta’s proxy companies. Singaporean banks still haven’t frozen the government’s federal reserve of $5 billions.
And the people. They ignored all of them. They have only one thing in mind. To overthrow the junta. By force. They believe the UN troops would come sweep the military clean after enough people have died. However that is simply false — a mistake that highlights the weakness of the protesters. The Lack of Research. And that is where the problem of self-proclaimed educated youths come in.
Myanmar has suffered noticeably in all sectors under military regime for the past 70+ years. Especially education. Notably because Gen. Ne Win systematically crippled education system so the public is easier to manipulate, thus total control of the state can be achieved. And he did succeed in doing so, well, at least to some extent. Majority of the people remained submissive to the state. And fast forward to the present day. Education hasn’t been exactly flourishing in various parts of country either. Many Burmese (not to be confused with Bamar) still remained largely unexposed to the outside world even with the widespread coverage of internet.
As a result, many youths are still unequipped with sufficient English skills to navigate the world wide web. They rely heavily on Facebook for both communication and information. Facebook, however, was not and is not designed with delivering correct information in mind. Facebook preys on people’s emotions. The more people use it and the longer they spend on Facebook, it’s a financial success for Facebook who relies on ads revenue for profits. And now comes the 2021 Feb Coup, where many villains saw opportunities in spreading fake news intended to attract attention to generate likes and followers.
This has led to a disarray of people’s otherwise coordinated movements. In a time, when majority of the people aren’t equipped with necessary knowledge to do their own research. Many chose to rely on popular individuals ranging from activists and influencers to businessmen and journalists. However the fact remains that regardless of popularity, none is immune to propaganda and fake news. So naturally some have become a haven for conspiracy theories, some a source of false hopes, and others a breeding ground for mistranslated news.
What also didn’t help the situation was that the people lacked leadership as they claim this is a ‘leaderless’ movement. It is, of course, in theory a fantastic idea where people toss ideas back and forth between different organizations and coordinate movement in tandem after coming to an agreement. Nevertheless unfortunately there was no such thing as a central channel for ideas to toss around, different people to discuss and agree on one solution. Hence while one person suggests protesting in one large group, others suggest many smaller groups. While some advocate against violence, others advocate for it. There’s no cohesion among the people. If there’s no leaders, then there needs to be one central dialogue channel where everyone can meet and discuss on a given issue.
While the lack of leadership isn’t as apparent now as it should be because of CRPH’s existence — whom many assume to be de facto government. The truth however is, there’s no long-term strategy amongst the people, bar CRPH’s guidelines and statements. If the dictatorship is to fall, not only do we need to stop their chains of command by following through CDM, but they also need to be strike hard where it hurts. Their pockets. As long as there’s no economic backlash, they’re not going to see the immediate and significant consequences this attempted coup has on them. There’s no large-scale boycotting against international corporations and companies that are still working with and funding the junta’s atrocious crimes against humanity just yet. And they don’t seem wanting to move out on their own accord.
There are many devices protesters can deploy to protest the illegitimate government apart from voicing their dissent on the streets and joining CDM. And people should explore these other options and just as be diligent and tenacious in pursuing those methods as in protesting on the street if they are to take down the junta. And as a precautionary measure against misinformation, one must always perform due research before believing anything. So adorn your unwavering courage with a mantle of skepticism.