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Revolutionary roads: how the army tried to crush Yangon’s most anti-coup district | Myanmar coup

As Thitsar* walked through her neighbourhood one December morning, she was struck by its emptiness. The bamboo shacks that line the streets of Hlaing Tharyar, an industrial township on the outskirts of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, lay in tatters, overgrown with weeds. The vendors who once weaved through traffic had vanished, as had many of the informal settlements where they lived and the roadside tea shops where they gathered.

Streets that had once resounded with chants for democracy were now eerily silent.

The scene was nearly unrecognisable from just 10 months earlier, when Hlaing Tharyar was a hotbed of resistance following the 1 February military coup which overthrew the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

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What is the Reporting Myanmar series?

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In February 2021, Myanmar’s progress towards democracy was brutally stalled when the military seized power and took control of the country.  

In the year since, the country has been plunged into violence, poverty and mass displacement as the military attempts to crush widespread resistance to its rule. 

Internet blackouts, arbitrary arrests, a ruthless curtailing of freedom of speech and escalating military attacks on civilian areas have silenced the voices of people from Myanmar.  

For this special series, the Guardian’s Rights and freedom project has partnered with a diverse group of journalists from Myanmar, many working in secret, to bring their reporting on life under military rule to a global audience.

Journalists in Myanmar are working in dangerous and difficult circumstances, as the military government attacks the free press and shuts down local media outlets. Many reporters still inside the country fear arrest, with others forced to leave their homes and go into hiding in areas increasingly under attack from military forces. 

All the reporting in this series will be carried out by journalists from Myanmar, with support from the editors on the Rights and freedom project.

These are the stories that journalists from Myanmar want to tell about what is happening to their country at this critical moment.

Thank you for your feedback.

Over the past decade, Myanmar’s manufacturing and garment industry saw huge growth, much of it centred in Hlaing Tharyar. Hundreds of thousands of women and men from farming backgrounds flocked to the township to work in its factories, many of which supplied clothes to international brands.

When the coup happened, these factory workers came out in full force to resist. Garment workers led Yangon’s first protests on 6 February, and continued demonstrating even as many were fired from their jobs.

A protester walks past a burning makeshift barricade in Hlaing Tharyar township.
A protester walks past a burning makeshift barricade in Hlaing Tharyar township. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

By late February, soldiers were regularly shooting protesters. On 14 March, hundreds of soldiers and police surrounded protesters and fired at them with assault rifles, killing at least 66 people, which Human Rights Watch described as a massacre.

Hlaing Tharyar map

The crackdowns, along with a spiralling economic downturn, caused a mass exodus of Hlaing Tharyar’s factory workers back to their rural villages. Fighting in the countryside is now raging between armed civilian anti-coup groups and the military, which is responding with arson, airstrikes, shelling and other indiscriminate attacks.

One year on, those who remain in Hlaing Tharyar are struggling just to survive. The coup and accompanying violence and instability have left the garment sector in tatters. Poverty and food insecurity have climbed. The UN Development Programme has offered grim forecasts, including that urban poverty would triple by this year compared with 2019 levels and that overall poverty rates would return to levels not seen since 2005.

Thitsar remembers Hlaing Tharyar’s week of terror last March, when she hid with her aunt. “We barricaded ourselves inside until everything was over,” she says.

Now she is out of a job. After months of falling orders, her factory closed in September. Meanwhile, food prices have risen by about 30%, she says. She is now clinging to the hope that her factory will reopen.

Even those still in work face a range of hardships.

On 3 September, two prominent unions accused employers of “taking advantage of the coup” to sack workers, target union leaders and drive down wages.

Than Htun*, another garment worker in Hlaing Tharyar, actively protested in February, but returned to work after several co-workers were fired for going on strike. He says workers were routinely coerced into taking extra shifts, overtime pay has been cut and workers have been made to sleep in an unfinished building next to the factory in case of sudden labour inspections.

Military officers and local officials have since forcibly evicted more than 8,000 families and destroyed their homes, according to research by University College London.

People in Hlaing Tharyar are also living under a cloud of fear caused by a rise in explosions and killings, carried out by both military-sponsored vigilante militias and anti-coup urban guerrilla groups which have increased across the country since June.

A woman weeps while holding a child next to the covered body of a protester. In the background is a banner of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Mourners beside the body of a protester shot dead while trying to rescue a wounded girl during a demonstration against the coup last March. Photograph: EPA

In December alone, the township suffered at least 16 explosions in five incidents targeting police stations and military bases, according to a tally of local media reports and announcements from guerrilla groups carried out by the Guardian.

Military informants are also ubiquitous, as are random checkpoints where soldiers and police inspect people’s belongings and the contents of their phones.

For Thitsar, these changes have made her fearful of even going outside for everyday errands. “There are arbitrary shootings and explosions. If there’s a conflict, anyone can get caught in the middle,” she says.

For Than Htun, the neighbourhood is unrecognisable. Market stalls now shut by 8pm, while all-day electricity cuts have become common as public boycotts of electricity bills squeeze the junta’s revenues. Sometimes, the streets are completely dark when he finishes his shift at 7pm.

As the military increases surveillance around the country, he feels as if he is always being watched. “Even when I’m in my own room, I feel the need to wear earphones when listening to the news. It’s like I’m in a strange land.”

* Names have been changed to protect their identity

Additional editing by Emily Fishbein



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The US, Japan and the Philippines close ranks against Beijing’s pressure in the South China Sea | U.S.

China was not present, but it was the main protagonist. The first trilateral meeting between the leaders of the United States, Japan and the Philippines on Thursday at the White House sought to provide a show of unity in the face of China’s increasingly intense pressure on Manila in the South China Sea, where the Asian giant claims sovereignty over almost all of the area and maintains a bitter territorial dispute with the archipelago. Washington has described Beijing’s tactics as “intimidation.”

The Philippine and Chinese vessels have engaged in increasingly frequent and hostile skirmishes in an area of the South China Sea that the United States calls the Second Thomas Atoll, and which the Philippines know as the Ayungin Shoal. There, Manila maintains a military garrison in an old, rusty warship — which it intentionally ran aground in the reef — to reinforce its territorial claims in the reef. Chinese ships patrol the area and try to stop the vessels that come to supply it with water cannons and lasers.

The most serious incident in recent weeks took place at the end of March, when Chinese ships fired a water cannon at a Philippine logistics ship that was trying to bring supplies to the military personnel stationed in the shoal, which is located within 200 miles of the Philippines exclusive economic zone. That episode sparked loud protests in Manila, which were backed by Washington. For the United States, Beijing’s tactics amount to coercion and violate international law in waters that are considered one of the most volatile areas on the planet. U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the issue during his telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 2.

At the start of the trilateral meeting on Thursday, Biden warned that any attack against Philippine forces in the South China Sea would be grounds to apply the mutual defense treaty between Washington and Manila, which was signed in 1951. He said that U.S. forces would come to support its ally.

“I want to be clear, the United States’ defense commitments to Japan and to the Philippines are ironclad. They’re ironclad. Any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty,” said Biden.

The president met separately with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shortly before the trilateral meeting. The previous day, he received Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was on a semi-official visit to the White House. The three countries share deep distrust over China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia Pacific and the Asian giant’s territorial claims, which an international court deemed baseless in 2016.

The Philippines and China are in dispute over the South China Sea, while Japan and China have conflicting claims in the East China Sea over islands Japan knows as Senkaku and China identifies as Diaoyu. Manila — which during Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate tried to get closer to Beijing — has resolutely aligned itself with Washington since Marcos’ election. The Philippine president is completing his second official visit to Washington in just over a year.

Tokyo, meanwhile, is investing rapidly in building up its defense in a bid to transform its army into the third most powerful in the world. In their bilateral meeting on Wednesday, Kishida and Biden announced the biggest upgrade to the Japan-U.S. security alliance in more than 60 years. The plan includes greater coordination between their commands and the joint development of cutting-edge military technologies.

“The United States, Japan, and the Philippines are three closely-aligned maritime democracies with increasingly convergent strategic objectives and interests,” White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday.

At the end of the meeting, the leaders said they will announce a Coast Guard patrol in the Indo-Pacific region. The U.S. Coast Guard will also admit members of the Philippine and Japanese corps on these patrols for training, according to senior U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Biden also announced the establishment of a new economic corridor in the Philippines for infrastructure development and agricultural projects, among other investments.

This week’s bilateral and trilateral meetings are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to develop a network of economic and security alliances in the Indo-Pacific to respond to China.

“Today’s summit is an opportunity to define the future that we want, and how we intend to achieve it together,” Marcos told the press on Thursday. “This meeting can be just a beginning. Facing the complex challenges of our time requires concerted efforts on everyone’s part, a dedication to a common purpose and an unwavering commitment to the rules-based international order.”

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The worst version of Nicaragua against the best version of Germany | International

It may be a noble cause, but its champion couldn’t be worse. The Nicaraguan dictatorship, recently censured by the United Nations for severe human rights abuses akin to crimes against humanity, has criticized Germany for arming Israel, and especially for elevating Israel’s security and right to exist to a “matter of state,” as defined by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her historic 2008 address to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament).

Nicaragua and Germany signed the 1948 Genocide Convention, which commits both nations to preventing and punishing genocide, as well as arbitration by the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ). Much like an earlier ICJ case brought by South Africa against Israel, Nicaragua is accusing Germany of facilitating breaches of the Genocide Convention by providing arms and other support to Israel. Nicaragua wants Berlin to stop weapon supplies and prevent weapons already given from being used in Gaza, and resume financing UNRWA, the U.N. relief agency in Gaza that has been accused of infiltration by Hamas.

Nicaragua filed the case against Germany because it was unable to do so against the United States, a long-time adversary of the Sandinista regime. Forty years ago, Nicaragua filed an ICJ case against the U.S. over its support of guerrillas fighting the Sandinista regime. Washington is a key weapons supplier to Israel and a signatory of the Convention. However, the U.S. took 40 years to ratify it, and only after significant amendments that gave the U.S. power of approval over any charges against the nation. Samantha Power, the current chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and former ambassador to the U.N., once likened this scenario to granting an accused murderer the authority to approve any charges brought against him.

This is the third case brought to the ICJ during the Gaza war. The first one, initiated by South Africa, resulted in two warnings for Israel to ensure humanitarian aid and civilian security. The second case, focusing on the consequences of the occupation, highlighted international support for the Palestinian State. The ICJ is not expected to quickly rule on the genocide case, but it adds to increasing U.N. and global pressure on Netanyahu for a lasting ceasefire.

Germany today is at its finest, driven by its sense of responsibility stemming from a tragic history. It stands as a staunch advocate for multilateralism and the international rule of law. Germany’s defense against Nicaragua’s charges is solid and its legitimacy as a democratic state is unassailable. Unlike the United States, it fully acknowledges the ICJ’s jurisdiction and the binding nature of its rulings. And all it needs to reverse the increasing polarization between the global south and the liberal West is full recognition of the Palestinian State’s right to exist.

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How Entrepreneurial Mindset Is Necessary For Startup Triumph

Entrepreneurial Mindset & Startup Triumph

The Voice Of EU | In today’s dynamic world of startups, achieving exceptional growth isn’t a one-shot endeavor. It demands more than a stroke of luck or a hidden formula; it requires an unwavering entrepreneurial mindset, a steadfast commitment, and consistent, sustained effort.

How Entrepreneurial Mindset Is Necessary For Startup Triumph

Picture Credits: PS Vault

In the subsequent sections, I’ll dissect five crucial factors to high-performance growth psychology that can steer your startup towards unprecedented success.

1. The Primacy of Communication

In the quest for growth, it’s commonplace for companies to prioritize feature development over precise language. Yet, this approach is fundamentally misguided. Language should precede all else.

The words you choose to articulate your product and company not only define your identity but also establish user expectations. Your choice of language wields significant influence, shaping how users perceive and engage with your offering. For example, a ridesharing service becomes exponentially more appealing when it promises a ride in four minutes or less.

User-Centric Empathy

Successful Founders distinguish themselves by their ability to think beyond their product and focus on the users. It’s imperative to understand how users think and feel, considering the intricate web of their lives.

To truly stand out, you must ask, “What does my product mean to them, and how does it fit into their world?” Behind every thriving tech company lies a profound insight into human psychology, a key that resonates with users’ needs and desires.

Perpetual Motion

In a landscape dominated by industry giants, speed emerges as your greatest ally. Much like the ancient shrew that thrived through ceaseless motion, startups must embrace a similar philosophy, “be creative, be dynamic.”.

To navigate the whirlwind of rapid changes and outmaneuver larger competitors, you must be in perpetual motion. Swift experimentation, rapid iteration, and an unwavering forward momentum are the cornerstones of sustained growth.

The Embrace of Data

Commitment to measurement is the engine driving growth. Being truly data-driven is not merely a buzzword, but a fundamental philosophy. Devoting substantial engineering resources to measurement, up to half of your total, demonstrates a genuine love for data. It should be an integral part of your company culture, displayed prominently for all to see. Your daily stats should be a source of pride and a testament to your dedication to growth.

Resilience in the Face of Setbacks

Failure is a constant companion on the path to growth. Embracing a mindset that can endure these setbacks is crucial. Most initiatives will yield negative outcomes, and being able to move forward despite this is paramount.

It’s a psychology of resilience, encapsulated in the saying, ‘Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm‘. This grit and determination are the keys to achieving substantial growth.

Implementing Growth Psychology

To instill these growth-oriented mindsets in your team, consider the following steps:

1. Teach the mentality, particularly the willingness to endure repeated small failures.

2. Clarify that every member is directly responsible for growth, regardless of their official role.

3. Provide your team with the authority to drive product changes and allocate resources for growth.

4. Encourage your team to be more aggressive in pushing growth boundaries.

5. Keep taking big swings and be open to creative, high-risk strategies.

Ultimately, growth is a collective effort, but it hinges on the psychology of the CEO. Founders shape their startups through consistent actions and decisions.

Cultivating the right growth psychology can be the difference between sluggish progress and exponential success. It empowers your company with data-driven visibility, constant momentum, and the audacity to aim for 1000% growth.

If you’re in the latter camp, reach out to us to explore further opportunities for growth.


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— By Raza Qadri | Business, Science & Technology Contributor “The Voice Of EU

— For more information: Info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous news submissions: Press@VoiceOfEU.com


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