An interview with Ko Jimmy, leader of the 88 Generations for Peace and Open Society, by German correspondent Georg Fahrion, entitled “We Are All Fearless” in the German weekly Der Spiegel.
SPIEGEL: Ko Jimmy, you spent almost half your life in prison for resisting the military. How do you feel, now that a new generation is rising against the regime.
Ko Jimmy: I love the new generation. They are good, smart people. I am particularly impressed by how they deal with the new information technology. In 1988 Myanmar was sealed off. There was no media other than what the military controlled. We only had a few landline phones; there were no smartphones. Back then the generals simply cordoned off the whole country, the world couldn’t know what was going on with us. Today we can stream everything live on the internet. It is more difficult for the generals to deal with our people as they please. And I see that our people are braver than ever.
SPIEGEL: Why do you think that?
Ko Jimmy: My experience is that it’s very dangerous to know little. If you don’t know anything, fear comes. The young generation is connected and knows everything. That’s why they are not afraid. All of us are not afraid.
SPIEGEL: In 1988, the military put down the uprising with bloodshed; it was similarly brutal against the monk-led “Saffron Revolution” in 2007. Compared to that, the violence against the current protests has not yet escalated. Has the army learned restraint?
Ko Jimmy: A military dictatorship is capable of anything. But we have two factors on our side. First, a lot of people in Myanmar are very active, so the military is facing the masses in various places throughout the country. Second, the international situation is more advantageous to us than ever before. The Americans have very clearly come to our side, and in the UN Security Council most recently China and Russia have also expressed “deep concern” about the situation and called for the release of detained politicians. Both factors are driving up the cost of violent action by the military.
Ko Jimmy: It’s like 1988: If the generals have their way, criminals should be everywhere. We have videos showing military trucks bringing them to the cities. For example, they set fires. We have to prepare to defend ourselves against such violence.
Ko Jimmy: People are forming their own security groups, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, district by district.
Ko Jimmy: Yes, it will remain nonviolent, it’s all about self-defense. Our strategy has three components. First, elected deputies have formed what’s called the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. A kind of surrogate government that issues announcements and statements and has asked the international community to communicate with it instead of the junta. Second, there is the civil disobedience movement, in which medical personnel, public service employees, railroad workers, and others have gone on strike instead of working for the military government. The third component is the mass movement that is holding protests all over the country.
SPIEGEL: Who came up with this strategy?
Ko Jimmy: It was our proposal to combine these three movements.
SPIEGEL: What role does “88” play in the protests?
Ko Jimmy: We don’t lead them, but we are enthusiastic supporters. We contribute our experience, give suggestions and moral encouragement.
SPIEGEL: Are you in contact with your comrades?
Ko Jimmy: Yes. They have also gone underground.
SPIEGEL: Your wife Nilar Thein is also a well-known activist. Is she also active in planning the protests?
Ko Jimmy: My wife has always been a fighter. Currently, she is helping organize the civil disobedience and working with influencers like movie stars or artists. She attends protests in front of the central bank or in the Thilawa industrial zone to persuade bank employees and workers to join the strike.
SPIEGEL: You and Nilar Thein are both underground, but still take to the streets. Is that not risky?
Ko Jimmy: Yes, it is, but nobody knows where we’re going to show up. We’re all over the place.
SPIEGEL: Aren’t you afraid of being arrested and be sent back to prison?
Ko Jimmy: The people will defend me. Leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi have dedicated their lives to the people and to the higher goal that our next generation can grow up in democracy. For me, the same is true. Being arrested means nothings to me.
Source Link :https://www.spiegel.de/…/myanmar-wie-ein-protestveteran…