“We shall not surrender until the world shatters” are the first words of the song that the crowds of the Civil Disobedience Movement have been singing on the streets of Myanmar this week. The songwriter Naing Myanmar wrote the words in 1988, in the midst of the Democracy Uprising of that year, to give heart to the people on the street. The words are important. So is the three fingered salute shown above, borrowed from the uprisings in Hong Kong and Thailand, and ultimately from The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins trilogy about a revolution. Here are the words of the song:
We shall not surrender until the world shatters
For the sake of the history and revolution written in our blood
For the sake of the fallen heroes who fought for democracy
Oh our Dearest Heroes
This is the country of martyrs.
Boldest people of Myanmar
Thakhin Kotaw Mhine,
The history has gone wildly wrong.
Thakhin Aung San,
The country has shed its blood.
Oh why could they commit such malice?
The corpses of our people on Pay Ta Yar Road proved it all.
Although we have fallen, brothers
The blood flowing on Pay Ta Yar has not yet dried
So do not waver.
Just like our fallen heroes who fought for democracy
We will revolt against them
For the sake of the martyrs we love.
Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale write:
Here is a video of the song, with footage from two demonstrations, one by marchers on foot and one on motorbikes.
Thakin Kotaw Mhine and Thakin Aung San were the leaders of the movement against the British for independence.
When Aung San Suu Kyi, Thakin Aung San’s daughter, was arrested last week and the new uprising began, the crowds wore her colour, red. Now more and more are switching to black, to include everyone, not just her supporters, and to say “This is not about any one politician. This is about the system.”
University teachers, nurses and doctors were among the first to protest in public. Firefighters, school students and many societies, institutions and administrative units have already joined the movement. A general strike has begun today. It is not called a general strike. It is called #stayathome and the Civil Disobedience Movement. But the appeal is for everyone to stop work.
Andrew Saks reports on Twitter: “This is the protest Saturday that catalyzed the huge wave of anti-military protests. It was called by the garment workers union. This dangerous, heroic struggle for democracy is being led by young women workers and a woman union leader. Don’t forget that.”
It is a lie that democracy is a western value. It is a lie that socialism or freedom can come without democracy. This is one more great moment in a global revolt. Where people have dictatorship, they rise up for democracy. Where they already have formal democracy, they rise up for real democracy.
So it was in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen in 2011, and so it has been since 2019 in Sudan, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Thailand, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Belarus, Uganda, Chile, Haiti, Guinea, Mali, Algeria and Morocco. The Arab Spring of ten years ago is becoming the springtime of humanity. And as Neruda said of martyrs long ago: “You can cut down all the flowers, but you can’t stop the coming of spring.”