Bunny Hong sighed at a Burmese restaurant on a recent weekday and talked about the violence that has swept his hometown since the military coup nearly three months ago. Two portraits of Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi adorned the wall in front of him with a photo of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.
“It’s a dangerous time,” he said, while two masked employees were cleaning the tables and floors before the opening of Stanton’s restaurant, Irrawaddy Taste of Burma. It was. “A lot of stories that can’t be told. Missing corpse. It’s a devastating moment. I’m very desperate.”
Hong’s college friends still live in Myanmar. Hong left Myanmar in 1987. He is worried about their safety and believes that only the United States can put an end to previously presumed violence. Deaths of 750 civilians, widespread arrests, and large-scale street demonstrations in a brutal military crackdown in Southeast Asian countries.
“Even my customers are asking about it,” he said, 55.
Since the Myanmar junta took control of the government on February 1, members of the Burmese diaspora in California have protested across the state, detaining Sue Chi and other civilian leaders, and detaining him. The recent elections in which Sue Qi’s party won the landslide claim without evidence. It was full of fraud. Despite international criticism and strikes The country’s economy was on the verge of collapse, The military is maintaining a state of emergency and doubling oppressive tactics.
For the small California community, the coup fueled fears that decades of Burmese efforts towards limited democracy and personal freedom might end. Estimates are the number of Burmese-Americans in California. Is 30,000 people. The majority of foreign residents live in metropolitan areas such as Minneapolis St. Paul, Indianapolis, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco. According to the Pew Research Center, most of the refugees who emigrated to the United States between fiscal year 2002 and fiscal year 2019 came from Burma (approximately 177,700).
A total of about 189,000 Burmese Americans live in the United States, according to Pew’s data. The first big wave of immigrants to the United States began in the 1960s, when the military regime was first established. Another wave landed before and after the so-called 8888 Uprising in 1988. This is a movement led by students, now known as the 88th generation.
According to Pew data in 2019, about 25% of the Burmese population in the United States lives in poverty. Data show that foreign-born and native Burmese-Americans are generally less educated and have poorer English proficiency than all Asian-Americans in the United States.
Many people living in the outskirts of Orange County, San Francisco, and the San Gabriel Valley, like Hong, have connections with Myanmar through family and friends. For the members of the Diaspora, the purpose of the dozens of protests they made was. Is to promote the sale of the United States from Burmese companies, many of which are military-owned, in the hope of robbing the administration of a source of income.
Demonstrations also serve as a means of raising awareness about the coup.
“When I first got here, people asked me where I came from. When I say Burma or Myanmar, people would say” Burma in San Diego? “”, Studying interior design at Mount Mount. Christie Toe said. San Antonio College in Walnut. “People were ignorant of where Myanmar is. No one knows that, so it’s hard to get the world’s attention.”
Before the coup, Tou and her family in Burma talked every day. Constant communication was a source of comfort as she continued her studies.
“It happened until my dad issued an arrest warrant,” Thu said. Her father, a singer in Myanmar, used his platform to voice opposition to the coup. He has been hiding since the military issued an arrest warrant a few weeks ago and besieged his family’s home around 11:00 pm one night.
“My dad doesn’t want me to worry too much. He says he’ll do his best not to get in the way of them, but there’s a long fight that doesn’t end in a week or two,” said 23. He said, “My whole family is scattered and hiding in different places. It’s really just traumatic.”
One day, Ethan Mint feels overwhelmed by the coup and needs to be separated from the news of Myanmar, which is flooded with social media and group chat. And other sources. Sometimes anxiety grows, he said.
“This battle with Tatomado will last for generations,” said 23-year-old Mint, using the name of the Myanmar military. “My parents fought them and my grandparents fought them. It’s a dictatorship and a fight, so it’s only part of my identity.”
Mint, a refugee who fled Burma with her mother at the age of nine, said it was important to raise awareness about the coup, as the people of Myanmar “deserve to be free and live their lives.”
He was moved by the scene where a young protester went out into the street and encountered soldiers and police who swung a water cannon and fired live ammunition.
“They are younger students than me and are doing these things. This is the message we are trying to convey as much as possible,” he said. “Given people in their teens and early twenties, I don’t think anyone is endangering their lives. They must be in love or messing with their friends.”
At the beginning of the coup, social media in Myanmar provided up-to-date information on arrests, deaths and crackdowns. However, since the military seized control of the Internet, many people living in the Diaspora have been unable to see in real time what is happening on the streets, said Tet Lin Thun, president of the Burmese Student Association at UCLA. Said.
“It’s a tragedy and an abomination,” said Lin Thun. “People are burned alive. They are being attacked by RPGs and grenades. It is unbelievable that the people of Myanmar will be treated this way by those who vow to protect them. “
Suu Kyi, who was elected President of Myanmar, Became a symbol of democracy He was under house arrest for nearly 15 years and won the Nobel Peace Prize. However, she has been internationally accused of helping the military massacre Rohingya Muslims in 2017.
President Biden imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s military commander in February. “We must respect democracy,” the Myanmar military said, blocking military commanders from accessing $ 1 billion of assets in the United States and targeting certain Burmese people and groups in the United States. Announced that it will impose restrictions prohibiting transactions with.
Lin Thun, 22, is well known by the international community and mainstream media that the Myanmar and Burmese diaspora are like Armenian Americans who have fought for decades to approve the Armenian genocide. It feels less noticeable than other ethnic groups with struggle. The hands of Ottoman Turkey during World War I.
“I honestly don’t know why,” said Lin Thun, who moved to California in 2017 to study political science. “I was wondering this with my fellow Burmese. We’ve been thinking about how we can fix that. “
Jonathan Rigeblad, a researcher at the Australian National University, said that one of the reasons why asylum seekers in the United States are struggling to get attention is “as much as the Chinese, Korean, and even Vietnamese-American communities. It has no influence. “
When he moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s when he was a child, he said, “There was no Burmese restaurant … On the other hand, there was no end to Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants.” It hinders their ability to raise awareness, along with the lack of an activist culture among many immigrants from Myanmar, he said.
“We tend to make it unobtrusive to avoid getting attention,” said Rige Brad. “As a result, it’s hard to create a unified sense of activism in the United States.”
UCLA student Lin Tun said he noticed a low level of interest in American-born Burmese, many of them “away” from Myanmar and never visited. He added that there is a division between generations when it comes to deciding the best way to inform other Americans of anxiety.
“Young people want to communicate more in English and are persuading other American communities to stand up and fight for them,” he said. “Older people are enthusiastic about speaking in Burmese. I feel that it is better to confide in Burmese because Burmese is stronger. There is a conflict about that.”
Nevertheless, he said, the community is working together. But he said that activists of different generations not only have different tactics, but also different goals.
“Young people are usually more concerned about awareness, humanitarian aid and withdrawal from investment,” said Lin Thun. “The older generation is concerned about stricter sanctions, and quite a few want military intervention,” the United States said.
Lee Ma-eun, a mechanical engineer who helped organize the protests, said the voice of the community was united but just beginning to form. Owning a publisher and actively protesting the coup Her brother, a writer, is currently hiding, Maun said.
“He called me once and my parents were with me. He asked about them, but my mother was upset and couldn’t even speak,” he moved to the United States in 2001. Said Maun.
For her, the fight for democracy in Myanmar is not just a problem in Burma, but a global problem in fighting “crimes against humanity”.
“In Burma, you can’t go out and express yourself freely. We lost it,” she said. “That’s an important reason for us. We’re lucky to be able to do it here and raise awareness where they can’t.”
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