Sunday, February 28, 2021

Rebel Riot: The punk soundtrack to Myanmar’s anti-coup protests

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“It’s not an easy thing as a woman here in Myanmar,” stated Hnin. “You have a lot of restrictions and you are not supposed to [be a singer in a punk band].”

The tattooed 23-year-old options in “One Day”, a brand new movie clip by Myanmar’s foremost punk band Rebel Riot, delivering seething vocals excessive of a barrage of heavy guitars.

In the background, mohawked and leather-jacketed punks wave crimson and black flags and lift three fingers, an emblem of resistance derived from common movie sequence, The Hunger Games, and adopted by Myanmar’s anti-coup protesters.

“We just wanted to create something that can inspire people,” Hnin informed Al Jazeera concerning the clip. “This song is meant for this moment.”

Hnin met different members of Rebel Riot in 2015 throughout pupil strikes in Yangon. They began hanging out “and somehow I became a punk, I guess.”

Describing themselves as a neighborhood greater than a band, the collective are recognized not just for their music however for street-level social initiatives, similar to handing out meals to Yangon’s homeless.

Hnin says that being part of Rebel Riot permits her to share her voice, which she says goes towards the grain of what’s anticipated from younger ladies in Myanmar.

“One of the things is you can’t get angry. You need to be quiet, you need to be patient, you need to be polite,” she stated.

“But women have anger. They have things they don’t agree on. So, that’s the reason why we are doing this, why I am doing this – to show that it’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to explode and be aggressive.”

Tens of 1000’s have taken to the streets because the army detained civilian chief Aung San Suu Kyi and seized energy on February 1 – the day the nation’s new parliament was because of sit. The generals have declared a year-long state of emergency and promised new elections, however have given no timeframe.

The protests haven’t solely featured mohawked punks, but in addition younger folks dressed as ghosts, superheroes and anime characters. Marginalised teams together with the LGBTI neighborhood have additionally performed a distinguished position.

“We are trying to get the attention from the global crowds,” Hnin informed Al Jazeera. “We are trying to do things different. We are trying to be creative, we are trying to bring some flavour.”

Generation democracy

Hnin stated younger folks in Myanmar are connecting with the remainder of the world via social media apps similar to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok, and have been impressed by related protests led by younger folks in Thailand and Hong Kong.

“We have one thing to look as much as. [What] the younger folks somewhere else on this planet are doing. And we will do the identical. We can change issues. I feel it’s actually impressed younger folks [in Myanmar].

“Right now, in the protests, you can see a lot of really young people. I can even say it’s pretty historical. Right now, it’s pretty special that all of them are uniting together and coming together and asking for one thing.”

000 92Q2QWMyanmar’s younger folks, who’ve grown up with extra freedom than their mother and father, have turned out en masse towards the army [Ye Aung Thu/AFP]

Hnin stated that, together with democracy, Myanmar wants younger folks to be concerned in politics, “so they have fresher ideas and creative ways. [Young people] have a more open view to the world.”

It is a sentiment shared by Rebel Riot founder Kyaw Kyaw.

“Our generation is very different. [The government] don’t understand what young people want, what the new generation needs. They don’t understand at all.”

Kyaw Kyaw found punk music when he was 17 years previous after shopping for a DVD from the Yangon market. He stated seeing the bands, the garments and the perspective impressed him to create Rebel Riot.

He informed Al Jazeera that punk music and the motion is “very important right now in Myanmar because punk is a rebellion against the system. We also don’t want the oppressed system. So punk is very important right now for the situation.”

It is just not the primary time punk has intersected with Myanmar’s politics.

In 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi referred to as on the Russian authorities to launch members of the all-girl punk group Pussy Riot whose members had been imprisoned for 2 years for staging an anti-government protest in Moscow’s pre-eminent Orthodox cathedral.

Having herself solely been launched from long-term home arrest in 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi acknowledged at an Amnesty International convention, “I don’t see why people shouldn’t sing whatever it is they want to sing.”

But it could be that even the once-hip Aung San Suu Kyi has handed her use-by date.

While remaining vastly common in Myanmar – as evidenced by the November landslide electoral victory that the army has claimed was rigged and used as a pretext for the coup – the typical age of the National League for Democracy management is greater than 70 years previous.

2017 11 13T054959Z 1703312944 RC19B277F6D0 RTRMADP 3 ASEAN SUMMITProtesters are demanding the generals launch civilian chief Aung San Suu Kyi, however analysts say the coup and the big protests present the necessity for a generational change in Myanmar’s politics [File: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]

Army chief Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup, can also be about to reach the retirement age of 65.

“For many young people, supporting the NLD will have been a compromise but now they are letting their voices be heard,” stated Ronan Lee, a scholar on Myanmar politics, and the writer of the brand new guide, Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide.

“Before the coup, the NLD’s leadership was ageing so young people will now expect rapid generational change within the party.”

Time’s up

The position of social media in organising the protests has additionally been famous by the army, who’ve shut down the web to try to stifle social media.

“Through the huge anti-coup protests, Myanmar’s younger folks have demonstrated the energy of their political dedication and their glorious skill to organise and mobilise massive numbers of individuals,’ stated Lee.

“The NLD needs to embrace Myanmar’s young people and give them a meaningful voice in a future civilian government.”

Whether punk rock will affect the result of the present political state of affairs stays to be seen, particularly with the specter of mass arrests.

Grammy-winning punk rock singer Henry Rollins informed Al Jazeera, “I think Rebel Riot is using the vehicle of music to put a message across is punk rock in its purest form and optimum application.”

Having visited Myanmar in 2008 within the wake of Cyclone Nargis, Rollins stated that “it doesn’t surprise me at all that punk music would have an appeal anywhere in the world” together with Myanmar, which has existed largely underneath a army dictatorship since 1962.

He stated punks have all the time confronted harassment from authorities, together with himself whereas singer of the punk band, Black Flag.

But he stated that the harassment skilled by punks within the United Kingdom and United States was “was nothing like what truth-tellers and people questioning established authority techniques like in Myanmar and Russia face. Not even shut.

“The situation wasn’t so extreme that you risked arrest and worse for merely having an opinion. Rebel Riot or Pussy Riot put far more on the line, at far greater risk than I ever had to,” he stated.

AP 17298454686904In 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi urged Russia to launch Pussy Riot after two of its members had been despatched to jail Now Myanmar’s punk teams are demanding Aung San Suu Kyi’s launch and for the generals to step down [File: Sergey Ponomarev/AP Photo]

“I think it’s great that these young people are putting outdated and otherwise cruel and authoritarian power structures on notice that their time is coming to an end.”

Rebel Riot’s new clip comes at a pivotal level in Myanmar’s historical past, however Hnin stays modest.

She stated the band created the brand new video “so that folks can see what’s occurring and what we’re doing right here and encourage folks not directly.

“Right now, all the young people are participating in the protests. They are really wanting to change. I think that’s what everybody hopes for,” she stated.


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