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“I’m fighting for justice. I’m fighting for democracy. I’m fighting for our generation.”

(YANGON, March 8, 2021)—Since the Myanmar military overthrew the elected government on February 1, security forces have arbitrarily arrested and detained political leaders, journalists, activists, and others, and used excessive and lethal force against peaceful protesters. Despite the risks, people throughout the country continue to demonstrate their opposition to military rule through mass protests and civil disobedience measures. 

“Women are active members in the political movement,” said “Aeri Mon” – not her real name – a 21-year-old student from the Yangon University of Education. “This movement is for everyone. This is for our generation and the future of our country.”

Aeri Mon is also a member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU)–a nationwide student organization with a long history of pro-democracy activism in Myanmar.

Born and raised in a small city located in the Bogale Township in the Ayeyarwady Region of south-western Myanmar, Aeri Mon cites reading as foundational to her political activism. She spends most of her free time reading and visiting book shops. 

“I’ve been interested in reading since I was young. The books led me to become a woman human rights defender. Why do men have their full rights, but not women? This question is always in my mind. In my opinion, women and men are the same. We all are people.”

At home, Aeri Mon has questioned the traditional gender roles expected of women.

“My father and mother both have to work outside for business. But I saw my mother also has to do the housework. As a result, she is more tired. I think this is unfair,” Aeri Mon told Fortify Rights. “Why do women have to do the housework? Why not men? It’s really unfair for women.” 

Since the Myanmar military seized power, street protests have become part of Aeri Mon’s everyday life. 

“I’m participating in the anti-coup protests during these days. I go out every day to protest. I don’t miss the past and don’t think about my future. I live in the present. I’m fighting for justice. I’m fighting for democracy. I’m fighting for our generation. That’s all.”

The two battles for women’s rights and rights for all in Myanmar are far from over, but Aeri Mon still has hope for the future.

“I hope Myanmar will be an all-around developed country, where there’s no war, no riots, no coup, just peace. Whoever we are, as long as we are born into this world, we all deserve peace.”

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