a beauty queen takes up arms against the junta
She traded her high heels and Miss’s scarf for an assault rifle: a former Burmese beauty queen is fighting alongside rebel factions opposed to the junta, “ready to pay with her life” for supporting the resistance.
For 42 days, Htar Htet Htet has lived in the jungle, in a territory controlled by one of the country’s multiple ethnic guerrillas, and has been learning how to use weapons.
In a photo released Tuesday on her Facebook page, the 31-year-old young woman reveals herself in a black t-shirt and fatigues, an AK-47 slung over her shoulder.
“Whether you are holding a gun, a pen (…) or whether you are giving money to the pro-democracy movement, everyone must do their part for the revolution to succeed,” she writes. “The time has come to respond” to the bloody repression of the junta.
More than 780 civilians, including women and children, have been killed by security forces since the February 1 military coup that overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, according to a local NGO.
Despite the violence, protests continue and thousands of strikers cripple entire sectors of the economy.
The fighting also intensified between the army and several ethnic groups, ulcerated by the bloodshed.
Thousands of junta opponents, who fled the abuses in the cities, joined these rebellions established in the border regions of the north and east of the country.
– “Ready to give up everything” –
“I will defend myself as much as I can. I am ready to give up everything (…) to pay with my life, ”notes Htar Htet Htet, who, for security reasons, does not reveal which faction she is fighting alongside. “We will not go home until we have won.”
Nothing predestined this former athlete, who had become a gymnastics teacher, to the guerrillas.
The young woman has long been a regular at beauty contests: she notably represented her country in 2013 at the first edition of Miss Grand International, a competition held every year in Thailand.
On February 1, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested and the army brutally ended a 10-year democratic parenthesis.
On Facebook, Htar Htet Htet denounces this passage in force and calls for the release of the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
Photos of beauty queens in swimsuits are replaced from day to day by a meticulous account of events: massive protests against the military, strikes shaking the country, abuses by security forces and civilians killed.
Easter eggs decorated with anti-junta slogans, candlelight vigils in tribute to the victims, flowers to challenge the divided international community on the attitude to bring in this crisis: Htar Htet Htet actively participates in the civil disobedience campaign on Facebook, principal communication tool in the country.
“I don’t play politics. My goal is just to overthrow this evil dictatorship, ”she wrote.
In early March, the young woman expressed her concerns: being arrested in one of the many operations carried out by the security forces.
The latter are tracking dozens of celebrities accused of disseminating information likely to provoke mutinies in the armed forces.
A few weeks later, Htar Htet Htet joined the guerrillas.
On social networks, messages of encouragement flow: “Respect my dear sister”, “May the force accompany you in the forests and the mountains”.