One Year after the Illegitimate Military Coup in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar: Joint LGBTIQ+ Civil Society Statement
We will never forget. It has been a year since the violent and illegitimate occupation of the democratically elected government by Myanmar’s military junta on 1 February 2021. This was at a period when the people were at their most vulnerable, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It was and still is a grave and utter betrayal of public will and trust, and a sheer disregard of democratic institutions and values.
In the past 365 days, we have been witnessing accounts of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, criminalisation, arbitrary detentions, illegal arrests, torture, violent reprisals, and sexual and gender-based violence committed against pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders.
This junta has been fueling a humanitarian crisis that continues to impose fear, escalate violence, and destroy innocent lives throughout the country. Bombings of villages identified as centers of the opposition had resulted in killings of civilians and humanitarian workers, and had also triggered gross internal displacement of communities. The crisis continues to escalate and has spilled across its borders as thousands have fled and sought refuge in neighboring countries.
We are appalled by the junta’s disregard of socio-economic and health emergencies caused by theCOVID-19 pandemic, such as curtailing supplies of oxygen and medicines, arresting doctors and medical personnel, and leaving thousands to die without medical help.
We will always remember. The sheer tenacity, bravery and courage of LGBTIQ+ persons who were and are at the frontlines fighting for democracy, dignity, and freedom will forever be commemorated and ingrained in our collective memory. Despite repressive conditions, our LGBTIQ+ siblings have tirelessly campaigned both online and offline in pursuit of reclaiming democracy and urging for a global action to condemn military-led atrocities. We are deeply moved by various forms of creative resistance such as flash mobs, the waving of rainbow flags, the march of drag artists that had become symbols of peoples’ solidarity and strength.
This military junta and their supporters have blood on their hands. We deeply regret that many have been separated from their loved ones and have lost their lives amid the struggle. Data reported by Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) in June 2021 revealed that at least 12 LGBTIQ+ people were shot to death, while hundreds more were detained, arrested, and severely tortured based on their SOGIESC. Many are currently in hiding to escape retaliation.
We stand firmly in solidarity. As long as Myanmar is unfree, democracy in Southeast Asia will never move forward. We commit our continuous support for efforts to reclaim and fortify human rights, freedoms, peace and democracy in Myanmar. Human rights and freedoms, particularly of LGBTIQ+ peoples, can flourish only if the people are recognized and respected as the rightful sovereign of the country. As such, we strongly deplore the military junta as an illegitimate force that is unworthy of any recognition.
We urge the UN to step up and impose necessary sanctions and actions against the Junta. Min Aung Hlaing, the rest of the military leadership, their political allies, and their families should be made accountable for the atrocities they committed.
We urge all governments, the UN, and the entire international community to recognize the Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) immediately and assure urgent unified response to provide unified assistance for putting Myanmar back on the path to democracy, the restoration of fundamental freedoms such as on information and expression, and guarantee the prevalence of peace and prosperity. While Myanmar is in crisis, we urge the international community to open up its borders, facilitate safe passage, and create domestic conditions to guarantee safety and dignity for all persons from Myanmar who are seeking refuge.
We urge ASEAN, especially the government of Cambodia in its capacity as the Chair of the regional bloc, to fully implement its Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar: immediate cessation of violence, constructive dialogue with all stakeholders especially marginalized and ethnic groups who are excluded from political processes, provision of humanitarian assistance, and the appointment and unhindered visits of an ASEAN Special Envoy to facilitate constructive dialogues with all stakeholders.
To our Myanmar LGBTIQ+ queerblings both in the country and abroad, you are not alone in this struggle. We are with you until and after democracy is fully regained in your beloved country.
List of Organizational Signatories
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)
Equal Asia Foundation
Initiatives for International Dialogue
International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)
Pan Africa ILGA
Youth Voices Count
CamASEAN Youth’s Future (CamASEAN)
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Komunitas Sehati Makassar
GAYa Nusantara Foundation
Justice for Sisters
People Like Us Support Ourselves (PLUsos)
People Like Us Hang Out! (PLUHO)
Blue Diamond Society
Filipino LGBT Europe
National Forum of Women With Disabilities (NFWWD)
Asexual Support Philippines
Care for Queers
Iloilo Pride Team
Kapederasyon LGBT Organization
LakanBini Advocates Pilipinas
LGBTQ Plus Partylist
LGBTS Christian Churches
Metro Manila Pride
MUJER-LGBT Organization, Inc.
Pioneer Filipino Transgender Men Movement (PFTM)
Side B Philippines
Society of Trans Women of the Philippines (STRAP)
Youth for Change
Youth for YOUth Organization
My Queer Story SG
Free Gender TH
Sangsan Anakot Yawachon Development Project
School of Feminist, Thailand
Sexuality and Gender Acceptance (SAGA) Thailand
ARCOIRIS Timor Leste
This statement was also signed by 4 organizations from Myanmar who opted not to be identified due to security reasons.
50 Individual Activists from the following countries: Australia, Cambodia, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Turkey, and United Kingdom