Female stars caught in the crossfire after Myanmar coup

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Being a female star in Myanmar can have its downsides. In the immediate aftermath of the February 1, 2021 military coup, actresses, models and social influencers became targets of the junta if they spoke out against the military takeover.

Burmese actress May Tone Khine was one of the first to take to social media to make her point.

“We fight until the end. It will be a long journey. Please don’t pray for us, let the world know about it! she said on Twitter in February 2021, reflecting the feelings of most people in Myanmar after seeing their Democratic choice Aung San Suu Kyi and many of her National League for Democracy politicians arrested and the arrival of troops and security forces in the street.

Women have been on the front lines of protests for the past 15 months since the coup dashed hopes for a country emerging from decades of military rule.

But it soon became clear that Myanmar’s female stars who spoke out would receive no quarter from the brutal military junta, determined to drown out the prominent voices tossing their three-fingered ‘Hunger Games’ salute calling for freedom. .

What we’ve seen are female stars using their celebrity status to protest the illegal power grab. It does mean, however, that stars have been arrested and imprisoned, or forced to flee abroad or stay abroad to avoid the dangerous clutches of the brutal junta that, on many occasions, tortured women in their custody.

Besides May Tone Khine, another actress confronted the junta.

Myanmar Academy Award winner Eaindra Kyaw Zin, affectionately known to her fans as “Au Wel”, is a two-time Myanmar Academy Award winner, mother of two and married to four-time Myanmar Academy Award winner actor, Pyay Ti Oo. Both were arrested at their home in Myanmar on April 10, according to Women Activists Myanmar (WAM).

Eaindra Kyaw Zin, who won the Seymour Cassel Award for Outstanding Performance at the 28th Oldenburg International Film Festival last year, starred with Paing Phyoe Thu in director Na Gyi’s second feature, What Happened To The Wolf? which had its world premiere on September 16, 2021 at the festival known as “European Sundance”. Indeed, the festival is one of the most important European film festivals for independent cinema.

As WAM points out, the creators of the film are among more than 100 celebrities, artists and influencers who have been issued arrest warrants under Section 505(a) of the Myanmar Penal Code by Myanmar’s military dictatorship. The reason: to denounce the months of human rights violations that followed the military coup.

Many are on the run with outstanding arrest warrants or forced to live abroad. In May 2021, Thuzar Wint Lwin, contestant for Miss Universe Myanmar, used the pageant’s platform to raise awareness about the crisis in Myanmar. She urged the world to speak out in support of the citizens of Myanmar and to speak out against the military junta, according to The Quint.

Thuzar Wint Lwin won the award for the best national costume based on the ethnic costume of the Chin people of northwestern Myanmar. As she walked down the ramp in her costume at the Miss Universe pageant, she held up a sign that read “Pray for Myanmar.”

Thuzar Wint Lwin remains abroad.

Burmese model Han Lay was clear with her opinion on the coup. The Miss Grand International beauty pageant contestant gave an emotional speech in Thailand where the 22-year-old model pleaded for ‘urgent international aid’ for her country, on the same day in April 2021 when 141 protesters were killed in a a crackdown by military leaders she says were selfish and abused their power, reports Reuters.

“I can say one thing, that we citizens of Myanmar will never give up,” she told Reuters. “They told me they would fight on the street and I’m also fighting on stage now. So, I think if they don’t give up, we will win.

Recalling the beauty pageant, she said her speech, during which she fought back tears, triggered a deep sadness that she could not contain.

“I controlled my feeling at that point because I need to talk for two or three minutes to everyone,” she said.

Han Lay said she had to speak out, noting that beauty queens are supposed to smile, but she cannot be happy with so many people dying in Myanmar.

Contest founder Nawat Itsaragrisil told Reuters that Han Lay’s decision to speak out against the junta means she will have to stay abroad.

“If she (returns) to Myanmar right now, she won’t go home, she will go to jail,” he said. Some female celebrities have taken a decidedly militant stance.

Myanmar model and TV and film actress Mya Hnin Ye Lwin, 34, has gained wide recognition for her roles in popular TV dramas and 10 movies, including the 2016 legal drama “Angel of Eden” and the comedy 2018 romantic “Yee Sar Ta Won Kwal”. .”

Last year, she traded her acting role for a “real life role” as an armed fighter in the jungles of Myanmar, reports RFA.

Mya Hnin Yee Lwin denounced the coup at anti-junta rallies and on social media. In response, the military government in April issued a warrant for her arrest for inciting the public to disturb the peace and stability of the nation. Although she fled Yangon and sought refuge in a rebel-controlled “liberated” area, she vowed to continue the fight against the junta.

“I took part in the protests after hearing the shocking news of the coup this morning of February 1,” she told RFA. “I felt it was an injustice against the people and decided to join the protests. At first I wasn’t too scared because there were so many people, thousands of us trying to peacefully express what we wanted for the country. Later when arrests were made and a 505(a) warrant issued for me [of Myanmar’s Penal Code], I was a little scared of what I might become if I was arrested. I went into hiding at first and later decided to join the resistance, despite the fear in my heart.

Mya Hnin Yee Lwin told the news agency that she misses home and finds the conditions in the jungle difficult.

Some people have commented that Mya Hnin Yee Lwin looks like a younger version of Aung San Suu Kyi in her social media posts – but not in photos of her holding an assault rifle.

“The difficulties we face every day are nothing compared to the lives of those who have given up on life and those who have been imprisoned. With such thoughts in my mind, I will continue this fight until we have victory,” she told RFA.

Similarly, Myanmar beauty queen Htar Htet Htet has turned rebellious, vowing to bring down Myanmar’s brutal military junta or die fighting it.

Htar Htet Htet represented Myanmar at the first Miss Grand International beauty pageant in Thailand in 2013. Eight years later, the 32-year-old fitness instructor, who competed against 60 entrants, joined an ethnic armed group in the border regions, reports Sentinel Assam.

The former beauty queen posted her pictures with an assault rifle on her Burmese Facebook page, in which she wrote: “Now is the time to fight back”. Whether you’re holding a gun, a pen, a keyboard, or donating money to the pro-democracy movement, everyone must do their part for the revolution to succeed.

Her friend, another beauty queen, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “Htet Htet is a true icon among Burmese youth, beautiful and sexy but very political and socially engaged.

Her friend told the newspaper: ‘She’s pretty lame and very brave. I wish I could do what she did.

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