Activism

2024-02-27
Su Myat is passionate about gender equality and human rights. She has worked to empower women founders and workplace equality.
More on Su Myat

On 1 February 2021, the military in Myanmar, Southeast Asia, overthrew the elected government and staged a coup. Street protests erupted, demanding the release of president U Win Myint, and State Counsellor and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Su Kyi and accepting the election’s result as it is. On 3 March 2021, during the crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations in the city of Mandalay, 38 people were killed by the military including a 19-year-old girl, Ma Kyal Sin. Since the beginning of the coup,according to reliefweb, at least 6,337 civilians have been reported killed and 2,614 wounded. The military campaign has included the destruction of villages, causing 1,505,700 people to be displaced within Myanmar, as well as the use of civilians as human shields against pro-democracy fighters, and torture.

In today’s networked world, evidence of the military's actions has been captured and recorded by civilians on the ground, and disseminated to an international audience. Organisations like Myanmar Witness have worked to gather digital evidence that documents crucial moments in the unfolding crisis, undergoing strict fact-checking processes in order to draw international attention to the current human rights crisis.

Fostering informed discussions and calls for justice through the publication of reports on social media, they also work in collaboration with other trusted media partners. Myanmar Witness exemplifies how photography and activism converge in the networked world. In the social media age, propaganda, fake news and lobbying by anti-democratic regimes can pose a huge challenge. Identifying the truth, with the help of citizens and independent media channels, is crucial for informing the population - and in seeking justice. 

Myanmar Witness’s work highlights photography’s pivotal role in shaping perceptions, mobilizing support, and demanding accountability. With the right information, pro-democracy groups and supporting organisations can take strategic and effective action. On 1 February 2024, the citizens held a national strike from 10:00AM to 4:00PM (MMT) by not going out, stopping businesses and staying silent to express their angst towards the ongoing military control of the country. It is a long and multi-dimensional struggle but surely, the people of Myanmar are not backing down in fighting against the coup.

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Su Myat was invited by Yung Au to contribute to "Reframing a glossary". Find out more.

Screenshot from Myanmar Witness
Screenshot from Myanmar Witness - an example of how evidence is collected on the website
Su Myat is passionate about gender equality and human rights. She has worked to empower women founders and workplace equality.
More on Su Myat

Suggested Citation:

Myat, S. (2024) 'Activism', The Photographers’ Gallery: Unthinking Photography. Available at: https://unthinking.photography/articles/activism-ii
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