Myanmar bloodshed: A student speaks, the SRC doesn’t listen

Flowers laid for dead Burmese protesters in Adelaide.

From the Editor:

Last night, something disgraceful happened at the Student Representative Council. The first meeting of the year is always eventful. If at least one person is not named three times (i.e. kicked out), you’re probably in the wrong room.

However, the words of Social Justice Officer Bisma Changez (Unite faction) echoed across the aisle: “I genuinely want to work with you all. Regardless of our differences, we should be truly united as an SRC and work together wherever possible.” Heads went nodding all around.

Councillor Nix Herriot (Left Action) submitted a statement from Go Suan Pau, an Adelaide Uni student from Myanmar, to be read at the meeting. He also moved three motions: the SRC condemns the violence in Myanmar, that it stands in solidarity with Myanmar students, and that it posts a solidarity photo on the SRC’s social media.

Altogether, it would have taken less than five minutes to do this. Not one person who believes in human rights would vote it down.

The statement was censored, and the motions blocked, by SRC President Oscar Ong (Progress), before the meeting.

The reason? According to an email, “due to irrelevance and inconsistency with the Constitution.”

You can find this within two seconds of opening the SRC Constitution:

The objectives of the association shall be: 1. To provide representation for all students of the University of Adelaide… 2. To maintain and advance the welfare of all students of the University of Adelaide.

The Myanmar bloodshed is not just happening on our Twitter. It is felt in the heart of Adelaide’s diaspora community. Perhaps even to people we call friends.

The kicker? The President signed off on his own statement, after he knocked back one from an actual student from Myanmar.

The sstatement Ong made after he knocked back Herriot’s motion.

Standing in solidarity won’t fix Myanmar’s problems. But it will give legitimacy to the SRC and give it the power to influence politics, advancing the welfare of students. It will encourage students to talk about why the violence is happening, and what our country can do about it. It will give a voice to a student whose life is being ravaged knowing his family could be caught up in the bloodshed.

Presented here is the statement the SRC President did not want you to read. As you do read it, I would encourage you to ask, who does the Student Representative Council actually represent?

— Ivan Bucalo Jankovic, On Dit Editor

‘Address to the SRC of the University of Adelaide concerning the promotion of Democracy in Myanmar

On behalf of the Myanmar Community of South Australia and the Myanmar Committee for the Promotion of Democracy, Human Rights and Peace, I express my deep concerns to the SRC of the University of Adelaide about the military coup and detention of the country’s top political leaders in Myanmar on February 1, 2021.

This concern extends to the hundreds of Myanmar protestors who have been arrested, killed or injured in the peaceful demonstrations based on the Civil Disobedience Movement.

The military of Myanmar has tried to justify their takeover by coup d'état by alleging that the election was “fraudulent”, but no evidence has been provided. The people and our civil parliamentary leaders know that they won the election by a landslide victory! Alas our government has been closed down with key pro-democracy figures detained and martial law prevailing.

Another explanation of the coup appears to be less about the notion of a “fraudulent election” but more about the personal interests of the military commander-in-chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, who is due to step down because his tenure as commander-in-chief expires in late July of this year. Him and his corrupt generals and the military are now in effect “holding the nation to ransom”.

We note that the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, the United Nations and several international communities have imposed sanctions against the Myanmar military government. Our local organisations do not have that sort of power, but we are similarly seeking the support of the local organisations such as the SRC of the University of Adelaide in condemning the military coup in Myanmar.

The Myanmar Committee in front of Parliament House.

As you may be aware Myanmar has a history of military coups as evidenced by the takeover of the government and imposition of an authoritarian military dictatorship in 1962.

As recently as 2010 the country initiated a transition to civilian democratic rule and, in the 2015 elections, more change was made, leading to the first government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). We were looking forward to a bright future!

The Myanmar Community of SA and the Myanmar Committee for the Promotion of Democracy, Human Rights and Peace have asked the military-led government, with the support of businesses and all stakeholders including the voters, to release all those who have been detained unlawfully and respect the rule of law for the restoration of the legitimate democratically elected government.

As the SRC of the University of Adelaide you have a unique opportunity to promote democracy and human rights by endorsing our democratic cause. We also ask you to take any appropriate action to condemn the military coup and the interference of the Chinese government in Myanmar.

Our community has done its best to further the cause through demonstrations in major capital cities in Australia and by corresponding with national and international organisation to attempt to remove the Military Junta and restore democracy to Myanmar. Your voice and endorsement of our cause would be a valuable contribution to our fight for democracy.

Please endorse our democratic cause for Myanmar.

Go Suan Pau

Coordinator,

Myanmar Committee for the Promotion on Democracy, Human Rights and Peace

United Myanmar Community of South Australia.’

Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Ivan Jankovic, Stasi Kapetanos, Isobel Moore, and Michelle Roylance. Get in touch: onditmag@gmail.com