Dr. Tayzar San, a well-known doctor, has led several anti-military protests in Myanmar’s second largest city, Mandalay. On April 19, the authorities of the military regime openly charged him with defamation of the state under Section 505 (a) of the Myanmar Penal Code – an accusation against dozens of protesters. all over the country. A day later, they issued an arrest warrant for him after security forces failed to find him at their apartment. Authorities have declared a bonus of 10 million kyat ($ 7,000) for information leading up to his arrest.
Tayzar San is the executive director of the Yone Kyi Yar Knowledge Propaganda Association (KPS), a group formed by young doctors and other professionals aimed at fostering a knowledge-based society in Myanmar. A decade ago, he founded the Beautiful Mind Foundation in Mandalay to provide free healthcare to the poor. He was also the president of the Mandalay County All-Burmese Student Federation.
Although he was hiding to avoid arrest, on Wednesday, he spoke with reporter Soe San Aung from Myanmar’s RFA Agency about the protests against the military regime in Mandalay. Questions & Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
RFA: What do you think about the authorities claiming a 10 million kyat bonus for information that led to your arrest today?
Tayzar San: In this country, as far as I understand, they’re shooting, killing and arresting whoever they want. Whether they issue an arrest warrant or not, announce the reward or not, whatever they want to do. I have nothing special to say about orders or rewards. I will do whatever I have to do as usual.
RFA: Are you concerned about getting arrested?
Tayzar San: I’m doing my best not to get caught, but this revolution is something that cannot be stopped or delayed. I will do what I have to do with maximum energy. We will try our best not to get caught and bulletproof. But, as I’ve always said, we have imagined the worst-case scenario. I will continue to work for this revolution as a revolutionary.
RFA: Last week, authorities arrested Wai Moe Naing, a famous protest leader, Monywa people, in the Sagaing region. Will people stop demonstrating against the military regime once the government has arrested all protest leaders?
Tayzar San: Leaders of protests in different cities are being arrested, [including] Wai Moe Naing, a colleague of mine. News of his arrest disappoints and heartbreaking people. I feel sad that Wai Moe Naing is arrested, but this revolution has not emerged because of Wai Moe Naing or Tayzar San. As long as this revolution lives and as long as the people want to fight the regime, there will be many Wai Moe Naings and Tayzar Sans. Just because someone is caught or something happens, people should not give up their hopes, political ambitions, and commitments. I want to ask them to continue this revolution in any way they can. As long as there is a revolution, more and more Wai Moe Naings will emerge.
RFA: Are the Mandalay protests still going on?
Tayzar San: In Mandalay, there are early morning protests, and daily afternoon and evening demonstrations. Security forces, both uniform and plain, were assigned to crossroads across the city. They stop people, cars and motorcycles to check. I heard that they are checking cell phones and they have increased security in recent days.
RFA: How do you manage to stay ahead of the rally despite being hidden?
Tayzar San: Basically I have to make sure which roads or routes are the safest for me to travel on before I get to one [protest] Place. Since I was born and raised in Mandalay, I know the roads quite well. I know what streets I need to cross to get to a place. In addition, during the demonstrations, our scouts informed us when police and soldiers on military trucks were coming. That is why lately, they no longer use military trucks upon arrival. I think they learned how we work. Currently, the police and the army are using passenger cars and motorbikes to mobilize them. Cars and motorcycles were taken from civilians in previous protests. During a demonstration the day before, security forces appeared in plain clothes. They carry guns and weapons, but they dress like civilians. We tried to avoid them as quickly as possible and used information from scouts. However, some of our friends were arrested. For us, no matter how difficult, the resistance movement against the military regime will continue in many ways in Mandalay and in other cities across Myanmar.
Report by Soe San Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.