The calls by Myanmar’s Miss Grand International, Han Lay, on stage last Saturday night in Bangkok for ‘urgent intervention’ in her country are growing louder as the UN special envoy there warns of an ‘imminent bloodbath’ and civil war with the two sides of the struggle doubling down in an already war-torn state.

The uprising in Myanmar is day by day, taking on more significance as what is happening in that country, in response to the February 1st coup, is now going beyond the realm of protest to an uprising and revolution. It has also become a proxy battle between forces for democracy in the world and more authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia.

An emotional appeal by 22-year-old Yangon university student Thaw Nandar Aung or Han Lay (centre) in Bangkok last Saturday struck a chord with audiences in Thailand and across the world when she called for urgent intervention by the international community to stop the killing of civilians including children by an oppressive military force led by strongman General Min Aung Hlaing (inset bottom left) that usurped the democratically elected government of the country on February 1st last when it staged a coup. It comes as the military has now charged the country’s popular leader, Aung San Suu Kyi (inset top left), with spying and is being assisted diplomatically by Russia and China on the international stage as the public doggedly fights the military on the streets of urban centres particularly in the country’s largest city, Yangon.

The United Nations Special envoy to Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgner, warned on Wednesday that what was facing the country now was a ‘bloodbath’ as both sides to the deadly struggle between an outraged public and a military with a leadership backed into a corner, can see no way out.

This is occurring in an already war torn country with a range of armed ethnic militias who despite offers from the military or Tatmadaw of a two-month ceasefire, are also warning that Myanmar is on the precipice of an all-out civil war.

Royal Thai Air Force ready to evacuate Thai nationals

The Royal Thai Air Force is reported to be ready to evacuate Thai nationals in Myanmar if the situation requires it.

This will be determined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is in contact with the Royal Thai Embassy in Yangon and Thai expat groups in the neighbouring country.

Thai authorities monitor the situation

Commander-in-chief, Airbull Suttiwan, has confirmed that a squadron is on standby to take part in the mission when ordered including C160 military transport aircraft.

‘The Air Force has been monitoring the situation in Myanmar since protests against the military coup emerged,’ a spokesman said. 

Russia and China are supporting Myanmar’s government in Nay Pyi Taw on the international stage

Both China and Russia were responsible, on Thursday night at the United Nations in New York, for toning down the language of a UN Security Council resolution on Myanmar which initially threatened sanctions against the military junta and condemned the indiscriminate killings there.

What eventually emerged was a clear signal that the UN is deadlocked on this issue.

At least 536 civilians have been killed by the military in Myanmar according to the activist group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 

The wording of the text talked about ‘deaths’ in the troubled country instead of ‘killings’ while many experts fear Myanmar may now be on the brink of civil war as protesters vow to stay on the streets with the movement finding common cause with some of the heavily armed ethnic minority groups.

Strong backing of Russia for the junta

Western diplomats at the UN on Thursday were both disappointed and surprised at the strength of support displayed by the Russian delegation towards Myanmar’s junta with the Russian delegates calling for the communiqué to also condemn the killing of security forces in the country.

The public in Myanmar has, since the coup was launched on February 1st, blamed China and Chinese interests in the country while officials in Beijing have repeatedly called for calm while offering their diplomatic support to Myanmar at the United Nations.

Intensity of this uprising continues to surprise observers with night-time curfews in Yangon becoming dark reigns of fear and terror

The uprising in Myanmar continues to surprise many observers with the intensity of anger among the public refusing to dim as the days go by.

On Thursday night, the military broadened its blackout of internet coverage in the country particularly in Yangon as police and military units staged arrests and retribution against identified protesters during curfew.

A video, which emerged from the embattled city, shows a man being arrested by police and military units, assaulted and dragged along a street at night.

It is a common occurrence with the night times in urban areas now becoming a reign of fear and terror perpetrated by security forces prompting many to flee to the countryside.   

Funerals daily with the shootings of young children last Saturday causing revulsion across the world

There are funerals daily for those who are killed in the ongoing confrontations which last Saturday saw young children die from bullet wounds in the arms of parents.

They were among the 141 killed on one day of terror, a day that the armed forces were celebrated in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital established in central Myanmar by the military regime which renamed Burma as Myanmar.

The parade was attended by delegations from Russia and China including Russian Deputy Defence Minister, Alexander Fomin.

Young Miss Grand International struck a chord with right minded people last Saturday in Bangkok calling for the world to ‘intervene urgently’

The deaths last Saturday at the hands of the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar military forces, caused revulsion and anger across the world.

This spirit was captured on Saturday night in Bangkok when Myanmar’s participant in the Miss Grand International pageant in the Thai capital took the stage.  

Thaw Nandar Aung also known as Han Lay, described what was happening in her homeland as a ‘revolution’ and called for more decisive action from the outside world including the UN.

The 22-year-old, who is an economics student at the University of Yangon, is now believed to be staying in Thailand as there are fears for her if she returns to Myanmar at this time.

On Saturday night, the young pageant contestant struck a chord with her audience in Bangkok and across the world when she called, in a forthright manner, for the international community including the UN to ‘intervene urgently’ in her country, Thailand’s neighbour to the West.

‘What are you waiting for before you take action?’

‘I want to say to the UN, what are you waiting for before you take action?’ she said. ‘So many people have died in Myanmar. The most important thing to do is just think about humanity and take action, please, immediately.’

At a press conference on Wednesday, she became tearful when she explained why she had made the call. 

‘They asked me if I can fight for democracy on the stage. I said, yes, I will do everything. I will speak up,’ she disclosed. 

Her actions have been compared closely with Myanmar’s United Nations Permanent Representative, Kyaw Moe Tun, who recently condemned the coup in his country at a session of the international body and gave the three-fingered salute first coined by pro-democracy protesters in Thailand and which has been adopted by the movement in Myanmar which is quickly springing into a revolution.

Parallel government being established from among members of the assembly elected last November

Aside from the protesters in the street, a network of MPs elected in the November poll is reported to be working towards an alternative government claiming to be the legitimate authority in the country while conflicts have already surged between the Tatmadaw and ethnic minority groups, many of whom have abandoned truces with the military.

This has led to airstrikes in Karen province this week which sent thousands fleeing into Thailand as refugees with injuries that have been treated at Thai field hospitals established along the Thai border.

Military now offering ethnic groups a two-month ceasefire to focus on fighting its public on the streets

The Tatmadaw or Burmese military led by strong man General Min Aung Hlaing have responded by offering a two-month cease-fire to the ethnic groups while still warning that it will continue its crackdown on those who threaten the security of the country on the streets.

It comes with ethnic groups now threatening to disregard all ceasefires in what is being seen as a prelude to civil war.

In the meantime, the United Nations has effectively found itself sidelined due to the diplomatic manoeuvres of Russia and China while western sanctions have been timid. 

The 10 block ASEAN group of nations has also failed to act.

Myanmar’s Miss Grand International is planning to stay in Thailand fearing arrest at home 

The organiser of the Miss Grand International pageant, Nawat Itsaragrisil, has confirmed that he has been in contact with the Immigration Bureau on Ms Han Lay’s behalf.

He indicated that she may apply for refugee status.

He has also suggested that other countries have made offers to the young woman and he would like to see her granted a work permit to continue to be a platform in Thailand for the movement against the junta government in Nay Pyi Taw.

‘Han Lay is 100 per cent under our care,’ he told reporters this week. He pointed out that, aside from the airports being closed, the young woman would be in danger if she returned home.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces charges of spying

A shopping centre was set ablaze in Yangon on Wednesday night reportedly linked to the military, after curfew. 

On Thursday, new charges were levelled against the leader of the main political party in the country, the National League for Democracy and its democratic icon, Aung San Suu Kyi.

It is understood the former State Counsellor, overthrown by the February 1st coup, has been charged with a violation of the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act along with her key Australian advisor, Sean Turnbull, who has, like her, been held under house arrest since the coup broke out.

This is effectively a charge of spying.

Background to the struggle explains its intensity

The background of this struggle is a public which enjoyed some elements of democratic rule from 2010 to 2015 and even more freedom following a successful election in 2015 which brought with it an improved economy.

The younger generation in Myanmar fears that failure to oppose this coup will see them condemned, in the longer term, to decades of oppression and exploitation with a lack of economic development which comes from an open and democratic society.

Min Aung Hlaing fears being prosecuted as a war criminal in The Hague for the Rohingya genocide

The army or Tatmadaw which controlled the country from 1962 until 2015, saw the gains of the National League for Democracy party led by Aung San Suu Kyi in last November’s election as a threat to the balance of power in the country.

It was taken aback by the party’s ability to turn out the vote and the poor performance of its own political faction. It cried foul claiming the poll was marred by electoral fraud.

It is understood that General Min Aung Hlaing wishes to secure his position with a more authoritarian or ‘disciplined’ constitution.

Respected observers suggest that, in the long term, the army strong man fears being prosecuted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for his role in the military’s 2017/2018 genocide of ethnic Rohinga Muslims in the country which stemmed from a brutal military response after attacks by the Muslim minority on police in their region.

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Further reading:

Crisis in Myanmar threatens to escalate as Thai authorities monitor the situation on a daily basis

Threat to Thailand from the encroaching dragon of the North as Chinese factories in Myanmar burn

Coup boss writes to Prayut for support as UK man with Chinese partner flees troubled Myanmar

Small bomb devices explode outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok as anti-coup protests grow in Yangon

Australian arrested in Myanmar as coup takes on significance for US Chinese rivalry in the region

Military coup in Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi held with scores of leading political figures arrested by troops