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Myanmar diaspora takes anti-coup protests global

Aung San Suu Kyi is the global face for the pro-democracy Myanmarese diaspora (IANS)

The Myanmar diaspora has gone global in their protests against the military coup in their homeland by staging demonstrations in countries like Japan, Taiwan, India and Thailand.

The Myanmarese diaspora is protesting in Tokyo outside the Japan Foreign Ministry office asking the Japanese government to condemn the army action in Myanmar. Japan enjoys close relations with Myanmar as it has been providing development aid, setting up industrial projects and even talking to the Arakan Army rebels with a view to bringing stability to Myanmar. Japan has also been involved in promoting the democratic process in Myanmar along with ensuring that different ethnic communities are not left behind in the country.

The anti-coup Myanmarese have been carrying out demonstrations in Taiwan also. The tiny island nation has a significant Chinese-Burmese community, which rallied around to show its support to their leader Suu Kyi. A few hundred people protested in Taipei streets in solidarity with Suu Kyi, who had recently won elections in a landslide victory. Many of the Myanmarese in Taiwan had earlier escaped military repression and find it important to express their support for democracy.

The Myanmarese diaspora, which is spread out in neighbouring countries like India, Thailand and Indonesia is also venting out its anger against the military regime for upstaging the fledgling democracy. Many of these people are activists who had earlier fled Myanmar while others include monks and students.

Pro-democracy protestors are dressing up in red – the colour of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party and carry her photographs. They have also begun to use the three-finger salute – a mark of resistance, made famous by Suzanne Collins in her books for teen readers.

With almost a ten-year democratic run in Myanmar, and a strong exposure to the lively world of the internet, Young Myanmarese are leading the protests against the junta across the world. Besides the three-finger salute, they are also using the hashtags – #SaveMyanmar, #StandWithMyanmar, and #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar to show their defiance against the generals as well as sustain their protests for Suu Kyi.

Even as the military extended the detention of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and also warned anti-coup protesters of lengthy prison terms of up to 20 years, the protests rage on in Myanmar. The anti-coup demonstrators have not been deterred by the sight of armoured vehicles on their streets. Tens of thousands of people are protesting in Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, the business hub of Yangon, Mandalay – one of the largest cities, and other towns.

The China factor

Protestors are staging their anger in front of the Chinese embassy for its support to the generals in sustaining the coup. People allege that China had sent IT experts to help the generals implement internet curbs. Many protestors also gathered in front of the US embassy to show their support for the American government over announcing sanctions against the military.