- Where are you from? What was your childhood like?
I am from Myanmar, once known as Burma, and it is in Southeast Asia. I grew up in the countryside, in a small town called Taunggyi.
Since I am from a distant and politically stable town, I am not that enthusiastic about their politics and philosophy. But with all the democratic changes that came after 2010, I have become politically aware of the unjust things and abused actions taken by the government and military.
For your information, our education system encourages rewriting what is expressed in textbooks, and this is also the reason why I have been politically unaware for most of my life.
I came from a normal family, which does not have any political background. So as soon as I got into the University of Yangon, I became enlightened about the political and social issues in my country. But I was more of an anarchist or existentialist at the time.
- What was it like before you joined Students For Liberty?
Well, it changed me a lot. Before joining SFL, I was unsure about what my political position was – I have always been into politics but I did not know that a liberty movement had even existed.
I was an anarchist, or more like a cynic. But after I learned about the libertarian movement I got attached to the basic ideas of freedom and liberty, and how they can coexist with the rule of law. I also now know how to conduct workshops and fundraising activities.
- What made you decide to join Students For Liberty?
I can still remember that day very clearly. I was on the way to Kachin for the Exchange Program for Reconciliation. I saw the Facebook post on the South East Asia Students For Liberty page, calling for new local coordinators.
I was intrigued by the name “Students For Liberty,” especially the “liberty” part. As i have mentioned above, I love freedom and liberty, so I checked the SFL website and I thought I had found myself a community where I can freely call myself an anarchist, but when I learned about the libertarian movement, I decided that I really wanted to learn more about this philosophy and be more connected with the pro-liberty community.
- What was your biggest accomplishment as a student leader with Students For Liberty?
It was the time when I got the chance to represent Students For Liberty at an IFLRY seminar, which is held in the first week of June. There, I made a lot of connections within the liberty movement, and I also got to speak with many like minded pro-liberty thinkers from around the world.
- What are some of the best tools and resources Students For Liberty gave you?
The thing is, to be honest, it is a massive and successful organization. I was surprised at first to see how much it extends throughout the world.
This is because of the projection of local coordinators in every corner of the world. The mentoring of the regional coordinators and the skills they taught us included networking, leadership, and public speaking. These have been the most useful.
- What made you interested in the ideas of liberty?
Truth be told, I was not that interested in liberty after I finished high school. The education system in Myanmar is almost like a brainwashing camp, because the system only accepts answers that are memorized, and they do not allow ‘outside’ answers.
So yes, I had not thought about liberty during this time. But when I finished high school, I began to draw and started writing poems, and this for me was the spark of my liberty, when I finally broke free from the brainwashing system.
Art needs freedom. So I became more connected with anarchism and diogenes and many great stoics became my models. That is how I got interested in the ideas of liberty.
- What does liberty mean to you?
Liberty means the power to achieve our goals in our own ways. If we lack liberty, we are no more than puppets. There are two things that drive humans: love and freedom. We long for this, we fight for this, and we live for this in the name of 1776 spirit!
- What would you tell someone who is considering getting involved?
This is not only for libertarians. This whole community is a safe haven for those who adore liberty and will do their best to spread the seed of liberty to all corners of the world.
No man can live without liberty! So let us join hands. It does not matter if you are a radical or an anarchist – we only fight for the same thing which is “liberty in our heart”.
- What in your opinion, needs to be done in order to make the liberty movement flourish in Myanmar?
Myanmar is in a democratic transition period, and there are ethnic armed organizations all around the country.
The former military regime designed the country’s constitution (2008 constitution) in their favor. It protects the 25% of the unelected military representatives in the state, and regional parliaments from being removed from their chairs.
The domestic affairs, border guards and control affairs lie entirely within the hands of the military, and of course there is no liberty in this country.
We cannot freely express ourselves on social media, we cannot criticize military officers, we cannot protest unless it is allowed by the police department, and if we protest without permission, we get arrested.
There are many students who got jailed because of the protest on the government’s internet lockdown in Rakhine, a conflict area between the ethnic armed Rakhine organization and Tatmadaw.
So I would suggest that we have to spread the seeds of liberty through the university students. I particularly say university students because the generation before us grew up in the socialist era, and most of those generations are not familiar with the ideas of liberty. Also, this country has a tradition of not talking back to elders, and they got brainwashed by this idea.
So I would want many pro-liberty university students to spread the seeds of liberty through social media, and campus workshops. If they do not meddle with domestic politics and take these actions, the ideas of liberty will flourish in Myanmar.
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