Residents of Dawei, the hometown of Myanmar junta leader Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, are ashamed of their native son for a coup that has led to hundreds of civilian deaths and thrown the country into chaos, sources in the southern port city told RFA.
The city of 150,000 people between the Andaman Sea and Thailand known for beaches and tropical fruit has seen 11 people killed by security forces and at least 100 others arrested, residents of Dawei told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
“Min Aung Hlaing will kill everyone regardless of where they are from. His regime will not spare the people of Dawei if they resist his rule. He only cares about maintaining his authoritarian rule,” said a protest leader, who declined to be named for safety reasons.
“We strongly oppose the military regime. We are determined to keep up the resistance to the end,” she said.
According to the Thailand-based rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) as of Friday, at least 774 people have been killed by the junta since Min Aung Hlaing seized power from leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government on Feb. 1.
“The leader of this murderous regime emerged from our region, Dawei township. This has hurt our reputation badly,” said a resident of the city, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
“I estimate that people who support Min Aung Hlaing in Dawei would be less than one percent. I think pro-democracy activists and protestors account for the remaining 99 percent,” the man said.
Despite violence and danger, activists in Dawei, capital of Tanintharyi region, say they will never stop protesting until democracy is restored.
“We have the ultimate goal of resisting this military regime. So we, the people of Dawei, will keep protesting in these streets until this regime falls,” said protest leader, who requested anonymity on fear of reprisal.
“We are not just resisting only Min Aung Hlaing. We are opposing the entirety of military rule. Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has done what all previous dictators have done,” he told RFA.
A student union leader told RFA that for the people of Dawei believe that the 64-year-old Min Aung Hlaing doesn’t stack up to other historic local figures, such as Ba Htoo, who led the Burma National Army to 20 victories over the occupying Japanese forces at the end of World War II.
He and other famous Dawei natives “are loyal to the country and stood for justice,” the student leader said.
Political analyst Aung Thu Nyen told RFA that unlike other leaders in Southeast Asia, Min Aung Hlaing has delivered little to his hometown.
“We don’t see him over his career working for progress in the region,” he said, comparing Min Aung Hlaing with former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who tried to boost economic development in the northern Thai city of Chiangmai, where he was born.
“In contrast, we don’t see Min Aung Hlaing trying to improve Dawei or develop the region,” said Aung Thu Nyen.
The people of Dawei say that the military and its leader have corrupted the honor of the armed forces.
“The Tatmadaw is supposed to protect the lives of the people. They are responsible,” said a resident of Dawei who declined to be named.
“But [Min Aung Hlaing]’s regime is now doing the opposite of the Tatmadaw’s duty. That’s why the people in Dawei don’t have a reason to forgive him, even though he is a native of Dawei,” he said.
Reported by Khet Mar and Soe San Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Eugene Whong.