On February 1 Myanmar’s military ousted the country’s democratically elected ruling party (the National League for Democracy) and declared a year-long state of emergency. The military, also known as the Tatmadaw, transferred power to Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Min Aung Hiaing.
The Tatmadaw also declared that the results of the November 2020 general election, which was won by the NLD, were invalid. The coup took place a day before the NLD were due to be sworn into power. The Tatmadaw have taken incoming President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi into custody.
Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi were both charged with breaching campaign guidelines and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, which included illegally importing radio and communication devices.
Mass protests against the Tatmadaw have erupted across the country. Over 700 civilians have been killed by the military or police forces. Some of those killed have been children. Over 3,000 people have been detained and three prominent members of the NLD have died while in police custody.
One of Myanmar’s most popular sporting figures, Aung La N Sang—the reigning ONE light heavyweight champion—is speaking out against the Tatmadaw and the violence against civilians.
Aung La, who was born in Myitkyina, Myanmar, in 1985 and moved to the United States in 2004, spoke to MMA Junkie about the situation in his home country and what he would like to see US President Joe Biden do about it.
Addressing President Biden, Aung La N Sang said, “If there’s any way you can talk some sense into the military, it would be so helpful to the citizens in Myanmar who are suffering every day. They have no media coverage right now, because all the media are banned. You can’t speak out against them on the internet on social media, or they’ll actually come get you at your house. Please, if you could by any way communicate and talk some sense into the general and the military, all of Myanmar would appreciate it.”
The US, and many other countries, have condemned the coup and the violence against civilians. President Biden has enacted sanctions that allows the US to freeze the assets of coup perpetrators and their families.
Aung La N Sang said he is desperate for an end to violence in the country and shared that he has received a stream of videos from the country showing soldiers, “brutally killing young, young kids.”
“There’s protesting, and protesters are getting shot. Kids are getting killed. I’m telling you, people over there, the citizens are getting sniped,” N Sang said. “Think about it: Not just accidentally shot, but sniped. We don’t have Second Amendment (in Myanmar). That’s the thing that Americans need to remember. We should be thankful for things like that, the rights that we have.
“I’m trying to find some positive out of this, and hopefully I can spotlight Myanmar a little bit more after the win, a great performance.”
Aung La N Sang is a hero to many in Myanmar and many of his ONE championship fights have occurred in the capital city of Yangon. In 2017 he won the middleweight title there at ONE Championship: Light of a Nation. The following year, at ONE Championship: Quest for Gold, he won the middleweight title in Yangon. He has defended his belts in Yangon on two occasions.