Hopes and dreams of Myanmar artists and musicians destroyed by coup

Musicians take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on February 11, 2021. / AFP

Through The Irrawaddy 20 December 2021

Before the coup shocked Myanmar, young artists and musicians were full of expectations and hope for 2021 after going through the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

But the coup turned all their dreams into nightmares, whether they were musicians or performers planning the return of live shows and exhibits after the country contained the coronavirus and the vaccination plan. national was in progress.

One of those musicians is Darko, singer of the local band Side Effect. His band had released a new single in January and they were planning to hold small gigs until the Burmese military coup on February 1 destroyed all of their plans.

“All my hopes for 2021 have vanished in the wake of the coup,” he told The Irrawaddy.

A demonstration against the coup of February 10. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Until the morning of the coup, which toppled the civilian party of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and saw State Councilor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint detained, Darko said he thought 2020 was the worst year of his life, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted normal life and left him struggling with depression.

“I realized that 2020 was not the worst. Instead, I had the chance to learn what is the worst, ”he added.

Seeing the regime’s brutality and inhumane behavior towards civilians after the coup, Darko said he couldn’t find the words to express his feelings about these actions.

He couldn’t even listen to a song until recently because of these feelings, despite music being a central part of his life. And Darko has found it impossible to write and record new music over the past ten months, despite his plans for a busy and productive 2021.

Many other artists and musicians have had similar experiences seeing the coup and the junta deprive them of the freedom they have enjoyed in recent years.

Another of those affected is the street artist MS, who asked to use her nickname rather than her real name. Shortly after the coup, he joined the street protests against the military regime with his friends.

“Since the coup, I wake up every day with the heavy feeling that we are under military rule and a junta that has seized power illegitimately. With that feeling, I don’t want to do anything, ”MS said.

However, in order to make a living he had to start taking jobs. But the artist said he couldn’t enjoy doing public works of art now, like he did before the military takeover, because he has to be careful what he paints.

“We have lost our artistic freedom. If I create works of art against the military, they will definitely put me in jail, ”he added.

Although he no longer joins public protests due to the junta’s murderous crackdown, MS has found his own way to support the resistance movement against the regime.

He has helped create art to auction online to raise funds for resistance, as well as participate in online crowdfunding.

Darko also continued to aid the resistance movement, although he was forced to leave his home in March.

Side Effect singer and guitarist Darko performing the song ‘2019 Voices of the Youth’ in Yangon.

His house was raided by junta forces in March because he is friends with politicians like Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former NLD lawmaker and hip-hop musician.

The regime accused Phyo Zeya Thaw of being involved in one of the civil resistance units in Yangon that carries out attacks against junta targets. The former MP was arrested by regime forces during a raid on November 18.

“My house is always full of my friends. Before they raided my house, my family and I were already in a safe place because some of my friends had asked me to avoid being captured, ”Darko said.

He was sad when he left his house because it is full of memories of his life as a musician.

In recent years, the local music industry has opened up and started to reach new levels. The Burmese now accept all genres of music and some local musicians were collaborating with international artists.

But the coup destroyed everything, including the country’s vibrant and improving cultural scene, Darko said.

“We cannot accept this situation [military rule]. Many young people have taken up arms against the regime. I pity them because they sacrificed their future to take a stand against the regime. At the same time, I am so proud of them. And i feel guilty [about not joining them],” he said.

Street artist MS said some of his friends were on the run and others joined the People’s Defense Forces formed to defend civilians against the atrocities and violence of the junta.

“Low incomes, not being able to go out freely and the other problems we face on a daily basis cannot be compared to young people who sacrifice their lives and their future by resisting the military. They are really brave, but all I can do is support them, ”said MS.

He urged the Burmese people to continue to strongly support the resistance movement.

” They need us. I want to win this time, we have to win. So I want to ask everyone present, if you want to win this battle, please support them, ”MS added.

Artist MS created protest panels and joined a February demonstration in Yangon.

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