My name is Shibuya Zarny, a fashion designer and Public Relations Member of UNHCR Japan. I was born in Burma in 1985. Today, I am here to speak to the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of the citizens of Burma / Myanmar.
As young college students, my parents were pro-democracy activists and members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s fledgling National League for Democracy party. Following a brutal crackdown by the ruling military junta in 1988, my father fled the country.
When I was 5 years old, my grandmother told me, “If you hear shooting, you need to get under the bed…” These are not the memories that any child anywhere in the world should have. Yet it is with great sadness, another generation of children are again living this nightmare today.
February 1st, the Myanmar military staged a coup, claiming election violations by the ruling party. The subsequent peaceful protests by the citizens have been viciously suppressed with weapons normally used in wartime. Are these the actions of a legitimate government?
Onlookers not involved in the protests — including the young, elderly and the disabled — have also been subjected to violence, maimed, shot, and killed. Citizens’ cars, motorbikes, cash and property are being plundered and destroyed as I speak. Ambulances and medical equipment have been destroyed. Paramedics, nurses and doctors have been detained by military and police.
How is 2021 a world where we, the people of Myanmar, must be subject to such cruel treatment by our own army? While other world cities are investing in infrastructure, preparing for climate change, and bettering the lives of their citizens, cities in my homeland are overrun by armored cars, warcraft flying overhead. Is this a good use for the resources of a nation with the challenges we face as a species?
This is a junta of terror. The Myanmar military have no desire to govern in any globally acceptable legitimate way. This is organized crime on a national scale. In the Federal Republic of Myanmar, the military exists above the law. The people of Myanmar deserve and hunger for basic human rights — the right of freedom of expression, the right to democratic representation in government, the right to protest without the threat of harm and death.
The international community must come together with one voice to condemn these terrible acts and restore a government for the people. The Burma / Myanmar people need the United Nations’ support. “How many more must die before the you take action?” It is time for us all to stand up for the rights of our fellow humans and ensure that these atrocities are never repeated.
Without swift and determined action, the situation will only worsen – a refugee crisis will occur, more children will lose their parents, and UNHCR may have a more difficult task having to organize post-process from the destruction of the military coup.
Please, do what is right.
Please, do what is just.
Thank you for listening.