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Glitch  •  13 May 2021  •  Non-Fiction

The Ethnocultural Collective’s Response to the Coup in Myanmar

By UTS Ethnocultural Collective
Content Warning: Death, mental ill-health
The Ethnocultural Collective’s Response to the Coup in Myanmar

An initiative the Ethnocultural Collective has taken on is the advocacy for UTS students from Myanmar, in solidarity with protesters against Myanmar’s military coup. This advocacy has been in accordance and consultation with students of the Myanmar community, in the guidance of their own movement.

At the February SRC (Student Representative Council) meeting, I (Melodie) presented and moved two motions pertaining to the welfare and advocacy of the Myanmar community, of which both were unanimously passed. I attach them below:

Context: “On February 1, de facto leader and state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, many heads of states, NLD party members and NLD supporters were detained due to allegations of voting fraud in the 2020 election. The military has declared a state of emergency and announced their one-year rule. 

With the military in power, internet and phone lines are regularly shut down to stop the news from reaching global headlines. Nationwide protests have begun as a result of this, as well as a civil disobedience movement. 

As of the SRC meeting, the situation has escalated with the license for the military to shoot and kill at nationwide protests approved, as well as martial law imposed with curfews set.

Such traumatic events and news have a negative effect on the mental health of Myanmar international students and thus, 

"..mental health support and counselling services have become essential."

It is our understanding that UTS offers free counselling services to all the students and we are grateful to know that. 

For the free counselling service, it would be great to have priority appointments, Burmese translators; and/or Burmese speaking counsellors; and/or counsellors with an understanding of the situation in Myanmar, as well as mental well-being support groups for Myanmar international students who are experiencing similar issues.

#​Motion 1: Stolidarity with Myanmar

As conflict in Myanmar persists and civilians fight back against military rule, the UTSSA should take a stand as allies of the Myanmar community, acknowledging the Myanmar community’s autonomous leadership and guidance as essential to allies’ support of the Myanmar freedom movement.

The UTSSA Student Representative Council stands in solidarity with both the protesters in Myanmar, fighting for freedom and against a military coup, as well as domestic and international Burmese students at UTS and in the Sydney community.

#Motion 2: Advocating for better access to affordable mental health services for Myanmar international students at UTS — motion supported by Luna (UTS International Officer)

The UTSSA Student Representative Council empowers its President and executive team to advocate for the well-being of Burmese international students to both UTS management as well as the National Union of Students. 

This may include, and is not limited to: 

- Advocating for greater access to affordable mental health services for Burmese international students (eg. priority appointments). 

- Advocating for university divestment from corporations linked with the Myanmar military government. 

- Advocating for close consultation with UTS students of the Myanmar cultural community in guidance of issues pertaining to the welfare and advocacy of the Myanmar community.

As mentioned, both motions were passed unanimously by the SRC.

I want to express acknowledgement and appreciation to the students of the Myanmar cultural community for their guidance, leadership and consultation, through the making of these motions and in continued efforts. It is important that the Myanmar community be listened to and be given the opportunity to lead in such a movement of their own; that the Lived Experience of their community and this crisis precedes all else.

If you identify as being part of the Myanmar community and are interested in getting involved, please get in touch! You can contact either by email (ethnocultural@utsstudentsassociation.org), or by messaging the Collective Facebook page.

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