In Myanmar, citizens throughout the country have been protesting a military coup that took place in February, 2021. As of this writing in March, 2021, civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi is currently under house arrest, and the military has declared a state of emergency that will last for the following year. At that time, they say they will hold another election. However, since this coup came about because the military rejected the results of the country’s most recent national election, it’s unclear what will happen next.  

Throughout Myanmar, as in many other countries throughout Asia, motorbikes are a popular and widely used means of transportation. On March 21, 2021, protestors in the city of Dawei held a massive motorcycle convoy protesting for their rights, and against this military coup. 

In this video, as well as in numerous photos you may see from protests, you’ll probably notice people frequently doing a three-fingered salute. If you’re familiar with the Hunger Games film franchise, that three-fingered salute is directly taken from those films. Myanmar is just the latest location where it’s been used as a real-world symbol of anti-authoritarian solidarity, after youth movements in neighboring Thailand made extensive use of the gesture following their own military crackdown. Its use in Thailand started in 2014, after which it quickly spread to the youth-led pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, as well.  

Pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar are using every means at their disposal, despite the very real danger of military force, to demand their rights as citizens. If that involves filling the streets on every two-wheeler they can find, honking their horns, and rising up en masse, then that’s what they’re prepared to do. In Myanmar, motorcycles and scooters are an everyday part of life, as citizens also want democracy to be once again. 

Myanmar lived under military rule for over 50 years, during which time it was effectively closed off from most of the rest of the world. However, in the past 10 years, much of the country enjoyed newfound freedom. Things were of course not perfect, as evidenced by the shameful treatment of the country’s Rohingya people, many of whom have been forced to live as refugees in Bangladesh. However, that turbulent and extremely recent history helps explain why citizens and their motorbikes are flooding the streets in early 2021.  

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