Myanmar law students report for JURIST on challenges to the rule of law in their country under the military junta that overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.
In this exclusive dispatch from JURIST, law student Theint Sandi Soe tells in her own words, in English, the story of her extraordinary and daunting year-long journey from ordinary law student in Mandalay to prisoner of the Myanmar military junta. a People’s Defense Force [PDF] soldier personally taking up arms to help oust the junta from power by force. JURIST has previously covered the arrest and detention of Theint Sandi Soe in news reports, dispatches and a report in August. Theint Sandi Soe wrote this at the PDF training camp at an undisclosed location in Myanmar. The text has only been slightly modified to respect the author’s voice.
I am a law student in the fifth class of the University of Mandalay, Myanmar, also known as Burma.
As everyone knows, Myanmar has been under military control since February 1, 2021.
We university students took part in the spring revolution in Myanmar [against the military junta] neglecting our academic lives and goals.
During the peaceful phase of the revolution, my mother, my little sister (only five years old) and I were arrested in early June 2021 by terrorist actions of the junta at home. [Editor’s note: junta agents were looking for Theint Sandi Soe’s father, a well known pro-democracy activist].
My little sister was released after half a month of imprisonment. But while we were in jail, charged with Section 505 A of the Myanmar Penal Code and facing three years of labor and imprisonment, my older brother was arrested and charged with Section 50 J of the Burmese Anti-Terror Law , and he risked 7 years of work and imprisonment. My older brother has still not been released.
At the end of October 2021, my mother and I were released on the understanding that if we resumed the groundbreaking case, we would be kept in prison under Section 401(1) of the Burmese Penal Code.
After we left prison, my little brother, who was only fifteen, left us to join the People’s Defense Forces. This is proof that being a minor does not prevent Myanmar from revolting against the terrorist military junta for our federal democracy.
Now we are both in the underground revolution, learning to shoot guns because the military junta ignored our previous peaceful protests.
As for me, even though I was released with the agreement not to revolt against the military junta again, I am here now in the PDF of Myanmar burying my whole life to become a well-trained female commando.
For the normal law student, we never thought about how to shoot a gun, how to be trained to be a soldier, and how we would do on the battlefield. The elder just thought about how to prepare our homework, give presentations and do research. But now we are learning to fight the fascist junta.
Although we have been fighting the Spring Revolution for more than a year now, we citizens of Myanmar will never stop revolting against the junta, to keep our freedom and our federal democracy for our country. This spring revolution will be our final game to cut all roots of the fascist junta from our homeland. From now on, we will describe our homeland, Myanmar, as a peaceful, federal and democratic, anti-junta country.
Thank you all very much for reading this far with interest.
Ms Theint Sandi Soe