Myanmar workers strike to force junta’s hand

BANGKOK (CNA) – Tens of thousands of Myanmar workers have gone on strike over the past two months, hoping that economic paralysis will force the hand of the wealthy generals who ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Bank employees, doctors, engineers, customs officers, dockers, railway staff and textile workers have all downed tools as part of a civil disobedience movement.

Some striking workers are among the 550 people killed in the military’s crackdown on anti-coup protests, while many others have been arrested or gone missing.

But they say the junta has forced them to take radical action, even if they cannot march in the streets alongside many of their compatriots.

“I have no more money, I am terrified, but I have no choice: We must destroy the dictatorship,” Aye, a 26-year-old bank employee in Yangon, told AFP.

“We don’t demonstrate in the street, we are too afraid to be on the military lists and to be arrested,” she said. “Our revolution is silent.”

That continued resistance comes despite repeated appeals – and threats – from the military in state media for people to get back to work, and strikers say they are getting stronger.

Tens of thousands in Myanmar have gone on strike since the February 1 coup, hoping that blocking the economy will force the hand of the generals. PHOTO: AFP